Post Modern theories of science embrace two principles:

Social Reductionism: every example of theory change in science can be explained entirely in terms of the social dynamics (or politics) among scientists.

Epistemic Relativism: the truth or justification of a belief depends on one’s situation or point of view.

What methods would philosophers use to assess the theories above and what would be the possible objections to these two principles? (If there are any).

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    Welcome to philosophy.se. I'm not sure I grasp the question. First off, where are you getting the claim about what post modern theories of science embrace from? Second, why must it be the case that philosophers agree s to how to assess these theories (if they were to agree to your definition of post modern theories of science)?
    – virmaior
    Dec 6, 2015 at 0:20

1 Answer 1


1) I am not sure that the notion social reductionism is defined as in your post. But let's assume it for the sake of the argument.

Then social reductionism is wrong.

A philosopher of science only needs to apply the historical method: Changes in science like the invention of Quantum Theory or the Special Theory of Relativity in the begining of the beginning of the 20th century cannot be explained in terms or approaches from sociology or politics.

Both theories do not bear any relation to politics.

Of course Quantum Mechanics has been invented in a stimulating academic context. Here sociology comes into play, but not as a main actor. On the other hand, the Special Theory of Relativity has been invented by Einstein single-handedly.

The driving force for both theories was the need to explain certain physical experiments and observations which could not be explained by existing theories.

A good reference explaining change in science is Kuhn, Thomas: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 1962

2) Concerning epistemic relativism see http://philpapers.org/browse/epistemic-relativism and the links within. The issue is assessed controversially.

At least concerning science, I emphasize the importance of intersubjective consense of the experts about the interpretation of the relevant experiments and observations.

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