Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts / Edition 1 available in Paperback
This highly original work presents laboratory science in a deliberately skeptical way: as an anthropological approach to the culture of the scientist. Drawing on recent work in literary criticism, the authors study how the social world of the laboratory produces papers and other "texts,"' and how the scientific vision of reality becomes that set of statements considered, for the time being, too expensive to change. The book is based on field work done by Bruno Latour in Roger Guillemin's laboratory at the Salk Institute and provides an important link between the sociology of modern sciences and laboratory studies in the history of science.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This anthropological study of scientists is at times thought-provoking and at times, it seems, intentionally obtuse. Latour and Woolgar's argument on the construction of facts (rather than their discovery) is well supported; their portrayal of the chaos of the daily life in a lab, in which "scientific reality is a pocket of order, created out of disorder by seizing on any signal which fits what has already been enclosed and by encolosing it, albeit at a cost", is useful and fair. But their dismissal of epistemologists that have addressed the same issues is unwarranted, their flirting with relativism is irresponsible, and their emphasis on literary inscriptions (scientific papers) and career advancement, paired with their dismissal of the meaning of those inscriptions and of any motivations of scientists beyond social recognition, are fundamentally misguided.