Widely regarded as a classic in its field, Constructing Quarks recounts the history of the post-war conceptual development of elementary-particle physics. Inviting a reappraisal of the status of scientific knowledge, Andrew Pickering suggests that scientists are not mere passive observers and reporters of nature. Rather they are social beings as well as active constructors of natural phenomena who engage in both experimental and theoretical practice.
"A prodigious piece of scholarship that I can heartily recommend."—Michael Riordan, New Scientist
"An admirable history. . . . Detailed and so accurate."—Hugh N. Pendleton, Physics Today
Cybernetics is often thought of as a grim military or industrial science of control. But as Andrew Pickering reveals in this beguiling book, a much more lively and experimental strain of cybernetics can be traced from the 1940s to the present.
The Cybernetic Brain explores a largely forgotten group of British thinkers, including Grey Walter, Ross Ashby, Gregory Bateson, R. D. Laing, Stafford Beer, and Gordon Pask, and their singular work in a dazzling array of fields. Psychiatry, engineering, management, politics, music, architecture, education, tantric yoga, the Beats, and the sixties counterculture all come into play as Pickering follows the history of cybernetics’ impact on the world, from contemporary robotics and complexity theory to the Chilean economy under Salvador Allende. What underpins this fascinating history, Pickering contends, is a shared but unconventional vision of the world as ultimately unknowable, a place where genuine novelty is always emerging. And thus, Pickering avers, the history of cybernetics provides us with an imaginative model of open-ended experimentation in stark opposition to the modern urge to achieve domination over nature and each other.
In The Mangle of Practice (1995), the renowned sociologist of science Andrew Pickering argued for a reconceptualization of research practice as a “mangle,” an open-ended, evolutionary, and performative interplay of human and non-human agency. While Pickering’s ideas originated in science and technology studies, this collection aims to extend the mangle’s reach by exploring its application across a wide range of fields including history, philosophy, sociology, geography, environmental studies, literary theory, biophysics, and software engineering.
The Mangle in Practice opens with a fresh introduction to the mangle by Pickering. Several contributors then present empirical studies that demonstrate the mangle’s applicability to topics as diverse as pig farming, Chinese medicine, economic theory, and domestic-violence policing. Other contributors offer examples of the mangle in action: real-world practices that implement a self-consciously “mangle-ish” stance in environmental management and software development. Further essays discuss the mangle as philosophy and social theory. As Pickering argues in the preface, the mangle points to a shift in interpretive sensibilities that makes visible a world of de-centered becoming. This volume demonstrates the viability, coherence, and promise of such a shift, not only in science and technology studies, but in the social sciences and humanities more generally.
Contributors: Lisa Asplen, Dawn Coppin, Adrian Franklin, Keith Guzik, Casper Bruun Jensen,Yiannis Koutalos, Brian Marick, Randi Markussen, Andrew Pickering, Volker Scheid, Esther-Mirjam Sent, Carol Steiner, Maxim Waldstein
This ambitious book by one of the most original and provocative thinkers in science studies offers a sophisticated new understanding of the nature of scientific, mathematical, and engineering practice and the production of scientific knowledge.
Andrew Pickering offers a new approach to the unpredictable nature of change in science, taking into account the extraordinary number of factors—social, technological, conceptual, and natural—that interact to affect the creation of scientific knowledge. In his view, machines, instruments, facts, theories, conceptual and mathematical structures, disciplined practices, and human beings are in constantly shifting relationships with one another—"mangled" together in unforeseeable ways that are shaped by the contingencies of culture, time, and place.
Situating material as well as human agency in their larger cultural context, Pickering uses case studies to show how this picture of the open, changeable nature of science advances a richer understanding of scientific work both past and present. Pickering examines in detail the building of the bubble chamber in particle physics, the search for the quark, the construction of the quarternion system in mathematics, and the introduction of computer-controlled machine tools in industry. He uses these examples to address the most basic elements of scientific practice—the development of experimental apparatus, the production of facts, the development of theory, and the interrelation of machines and social organization.
Mathematics, Science, and Postclassical Theory is a unique collection of essays dealing with the intersections between science and mathematics and the radical reconceptions of knowledge, language, proof, truth, and reality currently emerging from poststructuralist literary theory, constructivist history and sociology of science, and related work in contemporary philosophy. Featuring a distinguished group of international contributors, this volume engages themes and issues central to current theoretical debates in virtually all disciplines: agency, causality, determinacy, representation, and the social dynamics of knowledge. In a substantive introductory essay, the editors explain the notion of "postclassical theory" and discuss the significance of ideas such as emergence and undecidability in current work in and on science and mathematics. Other essays include a witty examination of the relations among mathematical thinking, writing, and the technologies of virtual reality; an essay that reconstructs the conceptual practices that led to a crucial mathematical discovery—or construction—in the 19th century; a discussion of the implications of Bohr’s complementarity principle for classical ideas of reality; an examination of scientific laboratories as "hybrid" communities of humans and nonhumans; an analysis of metaphors of control, purpose, and necessity in contemporary biology; an exploration of truth and lies, and the play of words and numbers in Shakespeare, Frege, Wittgenstein, and Beckett; and a final chapter on recent engagements, or nonengagements, between rationalist/realist philosophy of science and contemporary science studies.
Contributors. Malcolm Ashmore, Michel Callon, Owen Flanagan, John Law, Susan Oyama, Andrew Pickering, Arkady Plotnitsky, Brian Rotman, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, John Vignaux Smyth, E. Roy Weintraub
Could all or part of our taken-as-established scientific conclusions, theories, experimental data, ontological commitments, and so forth have been significantly different? Science as It Could Have Been focuses on a crucial issue that contemporary science studies have often neglected: the issue of contingency within science. It considers a number of case studies, past and present, from a wide range of scientific disciplines—physics, biology, geology, mathematics, and psychology—to explore whether components of human science are inevitable, or if we could have developed an alternative successful science based on essentially different notions, conceptions, and results. Bringing together a group of distinguished contributors in philosophy, sociology, and history of science, this edited volume offers a comprehensive analysis of the contingency/inevitability problem and a lively and up-to-date portrait of current debates in science studies.
Science as Practice and Culture explores one of the newest and most controversial developments within the rapidly changing field of science studies: the move toward studying scientific practice—the work of doing science—and the associated move toward studying scientific culture, understood as the field of resources that practice operates in and on.
Andrew Pickering has invited leading historians, philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists of science to prepare original essays for this volume. The essays range over the physical and biological sciences and mathematics, and are divided into two parts. In part I, the contributors map out a coherent set of perspectives on scientific practice and culture, and relate their analyses to central topics in the philosophy of science such as realism, relativism, and incommensurability. The essays in part II seek to delineate the study of science as practice in arguments across its borders with the sociology of scientific knowledge, social epistemology, and reflexive ethnography.