The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation

Paperback | September 15, 2010

bySteven Shapin

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Who are scientists? What kind of people are they? What capacities and virtues are thought to stand behind their considerable authority? The Scientific Life is historian Steven Shapin’s story about who scientists are, who we think they are, and why our sensibilities about such things matter. From the early twentieth-century origins of corporate research laboratories to the high-flying scientific entrepreneurship of the present, Shapin argues that the radical uncertainties of much contemporary science have made personal virtues more central to its practice than ever before, and he also reveals how radically novel aspects of late modern science have unexpectedly deep historical roots. His elegantly conceived history of the scientific career and character ultimately encourages us to reconsider the very nature of the technical and moral worlds in which we now live.

“Remarkably rich in detail and revelation. . . . Shapin may not be doing a conventional history of the ‘scientific life,’ but what he has done is both novel and provocative.”—New York Review of Books

“[A] thought-provoking challenge to the assumptions of scientific objectivity by science's practitioners and an acknowledgment of just how important the morality of scientists may be in the advancement and authority of knowledge.”—Library Journal


"The Scientific Life provokes us to discard worn-out understandings that science outside universities is necessarily aberrant. . . . The book succeeds masterfully.”—Science


“A stunning antidote to the naive portraits of how science is or should be done.”—Choice

". . . . Required reading for all scientists and those studying the social activity of science.”—Nature

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Who are scientists? What kind of people are they? What capacities and virtues are thought to stand behind their considerable authority? The Scientific Life is historian Steven Shapin’s story about who scientists are, who we think they are, and why our sensibilities about such things matter. From the early twentieth-century origins of c...

Steven Shapin is the Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of A Social History of Truth and The Scientific Revolution, and with Simon Schaffer, coauthor of Leviathan and the Air-Pump. He has also written for the New Yorker and is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:486 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:September 15, 2010Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226750256

ISBN - 13:9780226750255

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Preface
 
1 Knowledge and Virtue
The Way We Live Now
 
2 From Calling to Job
Nature, Truth, Method, and Vocation from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Centuries
 
3 The Moral Equivalence of the Scientist
A History of the Very Idea
 
4 Who Is the Industrial Scientist?
The View from the Tower
 
5 Who Is the Industrial Scientist?
The View from the Managers
 
6 The Scientist and the Civic Virtues
The Moral Life of Organized Science
 
7 The Scientific Entrepreneur
Money, Motives, and the Place of Virtue
 
8 Visions of the Future
Uncertainty and Virtue in the World of High-Tech and Venture Capital
 
The Way We Live Now
Epilogue
 
Notes
Bibliography
Index