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9780691024325

Leviathan and the Air Pump Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life
Leviathan and the Air Pump Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life
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  • ISBN-13: 9780691024325
  • ISBN: 0691024324
  • Publication Date:
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

AUTHOR

SUMMARY

In the aftermath of the English Civil War, as people were groping for new forms of political order, Robert Boyle built an air-pump to do experA-iments. Does the story of Roundheads and Restoration have something to do with the origins of experimental sciA-ence? Schaffer and Shapin believed it does. Focusing on the debates between Boyle and his archcritic Thomas Hobbes over the air-pump, the authors proposed that "solutions to the problem of knowledge are solutions to the problem of social order." Both Boyle and Hobbes were looking for ways of establishing knowledge that did not decay into ad hominem attacks and political division. Boyle proposed the experiment as cure. He argued that facts should be manufactured by machines like the air-pump so that gentlemen could witness the experiments and produce knowledge that everyone agreed on. Hobbes, by contrast, looked for natural law and viewed experiments as the artificial, unreliable products of an exclusive guild. The new approaches taken inLeviathan and the Air-Pumphave been enormously influential on historical studies of science. Shapin and Schaffer found a moment of scientific revolution and showed how key scientific givens--facts, interpretations, experiment, truth--were fundamental to a new political order. Shapin and Schaffer were also innovative in their ethnographic approach. Attempting to understand the work habits, rituals, and social structures of a remote, unfamiliar group, they argued that politics were tied up in what scientists did, rather than what they said.Shapin, Steven is the author of 'Leviathan and the Air Pump Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life', published 1989 under ISBN 9780691024325 and ISBN 0691024324.

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