Cover Hoaxes, Scientists and Witch Doctors: Science Beyond Realism and Relativism
series "Saggi"
pp. 200, 978-88-15-06720-3
publication year 1998


Hoaxes, Scientists and Witch Doctors: Science Beyond Realism and Relativism

Is it possible to claim that mathematics is only a social practice and that facts are created by scientists? Do scientists still believe in Aristotles theory of truth, "imperialist" modernitys last bastion? Whats the difference between scientists and Azande witch doctors? Postmodernists and realists often provoke each other in ways that seem to undermine not only common sense but even reason itself. In this book Gabriele Lolli reviews the essential features of thought upon the nature of scientific knowledge, as it has evolved from the logical neo-positivism of the Wiener Kreis in the Thirties (Wittgenstein, Schlick, Carnap) through its decline in the Fifties at the hands of Quine, Sellars, Hanson, up to the contributions of Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, both strongly influenced by the second Wittgenstein, until the recent contentions, put forth in the field of the sociology of science by the radical relativism of Bloor and Latour and postmodernist multiculturalism. The book offers a synthetic overview of contemporary philosophy of science. Thanks to his sharply critical viewpoint, the author helps the reader understand dysfunctions in science, such as when the physicist Sokal wrote an article full of preposterous ideas and submitted it to a distinguished "social studies" journal, which actually accepted and published it.

Gabriele Lolli teaches Mathematical Logic at the University of Turin.