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01/28/2020

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Matt

I'm pretty sympathetic with the take here, but I'll say that I'm a bit surprised that no one, as far as I can tell, has mentioned Philip Kitcher's very good discussion of these issues in his book _Science, Truth, and Democracy_, in particular his chapter, where he discusses exactly some of the issues at stake, "Subversive Truth and Ideals of Progress". His conclusion in the chapter, if I'm remembering it right (it's been a long time since I've read it, and I've only skimmed it now) is that it's a dogma to think that scientific research, or other pursuits of truth, will always be good for human flourishing, and he therefore argues that we should sometimes be willing to set some research aside. This, at least, seems like a plausible idea. If it's so, then I think that Chirimuuta and Dietrich's claim is, at least, too fast. It also shows why, I think, why Cofnas's paper needs to be addressed in a very different way than it has been.

David Duffy

Cofnas too discusses some of Kitcher's arguments in his 2015 paper...

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Eric, Perhaps you and/or your readers would find one of my bibliographies of interest in this regard: https://www.academia.edu/9985005/Sullied_Natural_and_Social_Sciences_A_Basic_Reading_Guide

I am curious as to what readers think of the notion of "indigenous science," as treated, for example, in Warren, D. Michael, L. Jan Slikkerveer and David Brokensha, eds. The Cultural Dimension of Development: Indigenous Knowledge Systems (London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1995) and Gonzalez, Robert J. Zapotec Science: Farming and Food in the Northern Sierra of Oaxaca (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001). One sees this topic arise again and again in non-Western forms of medicine and healing as well as agrarian practices in Asia and elsewhere (in which peasants demonstrate a scientific or scientific-like practical knowledge of geographic and ecological variables that is often superior in many respects to modern agricultural practices rooted in contemporary sciences and agribusiness).

Finally, I have found that thinking about the life and work of Otto (and to some extent Marie) Neurath is valuable for thinking through at least some of these questions, but as for the reasons why, I am not yet prepared to attempt a coherent explanation worth sharing. It just so happens that I recently posted a short (English language) bibliography, "Otto Neurath & Red Vienna: Mutual Philosophical, Scientific and Socialist Fecundity," which contains an appended list I hoped would be helpful for assessing his views on science, museums, and infographics. His efforts to bring Isoytpe to the several countries on the African continent are, I suspect, likewise helpful in thinking through some of the questions broached in your post.

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