Practice Theory and Pragmatism in Science & Technology Studies

Convergence or Collision?

Anders Buch

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingForskningpeer review

Resumé

Science & Technology Studies (STS) and social science has made a turn, a ‘practice turn’, and the notion ‘practice theory’ has made its way into the field of STS. But it is notable that proponents of this turn and theory rarely mention American pragmatism as a source of inspiration or refer to pragmatist philosophy. Reading through the practice theoretical STS literature the vista seems to come very close to positions occupied by classical American pragmatists. In this paper, I invite you on a journey, which I have just begun, to find out not why contemporary scholars of practice theory as for example Rouse, Schatzki and Reckwitz refrain from including the pragmatist legacy in their writings. This question would probably either be entirely speculative or maybe even not very interesting? Rather, I want to explore what these two apparently similar ways of theorizing do to the study of science and technology, or to some of these studies. It is impossible to cover all STS studies inspired by practice theory, and I probably have not found all the studies drawing on pragmatism. It is in the spirit of both practice theory and pragmatism to reach out, to try to bridge ideas by talking to other traditions rather than shut themselves off in a closed closet (Bernstein, 1989; Nicolini, 2013), and as one of the contemporary pragmatist philosophers says with reference to Dewey’s “Experience and Nature” (1925 [1981]): “To be human is to be engaged in practices” (Boisvert, 2012: 109). To back up my argument, I begin by an introduction to some of the proponents of practice theory and of pragmatism. Regarding the latter, I primarily present work by Dewey because this is what I am most familiar with. Although I recognize that practice theory and pragmatism differ on fundamental philosophical issues in relation to the normative evaluation of action, I show that the two intellectual traditions have much in common when it comes to what they do to STS studies. After this introduction to practice theory, my paper will proceed in the following steps. Firstly, I will briefly survey practice theoretical and pragmatist contributions to STS studies in order to discern their respective accounts of practices and human activity. Secondly, I will trace these accounts back to Dewey’s and Schatzki’s philosophical reconstructions of the concept of ‘practice’ and ‘action’ in order to tease out differences and similarities between pragmatist and practice theoretical understandings. Thirdly, I will – mainly trough the work of Joseph Rouse – vindicate that the seeming collision points between practice theory and pragmatism (mainly in relation to conceptions of ‘normativity’ and ‘naturalism’) can in fact be overcome. I will argue that a pragmatist approach can add valuable resources to a practice theoretical ‘toolkit’ of studying and representing science and technology.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelSPSP 2015 The 5th biennial conference of the Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice
Antal sider1
Publikationsdato2015
Sider85-85
StatusUdgivet - 2015
BegivenhedBianual Meeting in The Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice - Aarhus University, Aarhus, Danmark
Varighed: 24 jun. 201526 jun. 2015

Konference

KonferenceBianual Meeting in The Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice
LokationAarhus University
LandDanmark
ByAarhus
Periode24/06/201526/06/2015

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technology studies
theory-practice
pragmatism
science
naturalism
normativity
field of study
reconstruction
social science
evaluation

Citer dette

Buch, A. (2015). Practice Theory and Pragmatism in Science & Technology Studies: Convergence or Collision? I SPSP 2015 The 5th biennial conference of the Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice (s. 85-85)
Buch, Anders. / Practice Theory and Pragmatism in Science & Technology Studies : Convergence or Collision?. SPSP 2015 The 5th biennial conference of the Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice. 2015. s. 85-85
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title = "Practice Theory and Pragmatism in Science & Technology Studies: Convergence or Collision?",
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Buch, A 2015, Practice Theory and Pragmatism in Science & Technology Studies: Convergence or Collision? i SPSP 2015 The 5th biennial conference of the Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice. s. 85-85, Bianual Meeting in The Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice, Aarhus, Danmark, 24/06/2015.

Practice Theory and Pragmatism in Science & Technology Studies : Convergence or Collision? / Buch, Anders.

SPSP 2015 The 5th biennial conference of the Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice. 2015. s. 85-85.

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingForskningpeer review

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AU - Buch, Anders

PY - 2015

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N2 - Science & Technology Studies (STS) and social science has made a turn, a ‘practice turn’, and the notion ‘practice theory’ has made its way into the field of STS. But it is notable that proponents of this turn and theory rarely mention American pragmatism as a source of inspiration or refer to pragmatist philosophy. Reading through the practice theoretical STS literature the vista seems to come very close to positions occupied by classical American pragmatists. In this paper, I invite you on a journey, which I have just begun, to find out not why contemporary scholars of practice theory as for example Rouse, Schatzki and Reckwitz refrain from including the pragmatist legacy in their writings. This question would probably either be entirely speculative or maybe even not very interesting? Rather, I want to explore what these two apparently similar ways of theorizing do to the study of science and technology, or to some of these studies. It is impossible to cover all STS studies inspired by practice theory, and I probably have not found all the studies drawing on pragmatism. It is in the spirit of both practice theory and pragmatism to reach out, to try to bridge ideas by talking to other traditions rather than shut themselves off in a closed closet (Bernstein, 1989; Nicolini, 2013), and as one of the contemporary pragmatist philosophers says with reference to Dewey’s “Experience and Nature” (1925 [1981]): “To be human is to be engaged in practices” (Boisvert, 2012: 109). To back up my argument, I begin by an introduction to some of the proponents of practice theory and of pragmatism. Regarding the latter, I primarily present work by Dewey because this is what I am most familiar with. Although I recognize that practice theory and pragmatism differ on fundamental philosophical issues in relation to the normative evaluation of action, I show that the two intellectual traditions have much in common when it comes to what they do to STS studies. After this introduction to practice theory, my paper will proceed in the following steps. Firstly, I will briefly survey practice theoretical and pragmatist contributions to STS studies in order to discern their respective accounts of practices and human activity. Secondly, I will trace these accounts back to Dewey’s and Schatzki’s philosophical reconstructions of the concept of ‘practice’ and ‘action’ in order to tease out differences and similarities between pragmatist and practice theoretical understandings. Thirdly, I will – mainly trough the work of Joseph Rouse – vindicate that the seeming collision points between practice theory and pragmatism (mainly in relation to conceptions of ‘normativity’ and ‘naturalism’) can in fact be overcome. I will argue that a pragmatist approach can add valuable resources to a practice theoretical ‘toolkit’ of studying and representing science and technology.

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Buch A. Practice Theory and Pragmatism in Science & Technology Studies: Convergence or Collision? I SPSP 2015 The 5th biennial conference of the Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice. 2015. s. 85-85