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Convincing Argument

Sometimes book reviews are almost as interesting as the books. I was taken by your comment on Thomas F Gieryn's book [Cultural Boundaries of Science, Dec/Jan]: "I'm not sure if I agree with his concept of science as being secure in its episemic authority." May I add a quiet nod of agreement. It is a source of wonder that the bases of a system as powerful as the scientific method sometimes seem common sense and modest, but not always crushingly compelling. But then, human beings seldom use common sense, let alone logic.

Surely the proof of the pudding is not necessarily in the epistemology. Certainly it provided the intellectual motivation, when people started to ask "how do you know?" and the even deeper "how do you know you know?"; the seeds were sown for more progress than they could have guessed. The convincing argument must be in the progress that science has made in the last three centuries. We must be doing something right.

The real reason for my rushing into print is your question about the social sciences. Perhaps the word "science" could be registered in some way so that they cannot use it unless they meet its criteria...

C J Craigie, Upper Hutt