Evolving collection of themes for interpreting science in context

During the course of the semester co-teaching a graduate course on gender, race, and science, I will update this post with themes I use for interpreting science in context:

  1. Consider whether the exotic has been substituted for unspoken issues closer to home (Haraway 1989; Taylor 2005, 186).
  2. Examine scientist’s explicit concerns about some matter in terms of their implicit views of the appropriate role of their social stratum (Taylor 2008).
  3. “It can be illuminating to ask what the authors (including ourselves) state or imply about what we can do. (This deliberately broad formulation encompasses views about the social actions and organization they support [see #2] as well as their views about the capabilities of different people growing up in our society and how difficult these are to change.)” (Taylor 2008).
  4. “Close examination of concepts and methods within any given natural or social science can stimulate our inquiries into the diverse social influences shaping that science, and reciprocally” (Taylor 2008).
  5. Trace the diverse practical considerations involved in establishing or modifying knowledge (or effectiveness of a technology) (Taylor 2005, 93ff).
  6. See also compilation of themes for critical thinking about biology in society.
  7. Consider the following items in relation to each other:
    K—What do I Know? (or claim to know)
    A—Action: What actions could people pursue on the basis of accepting this knowledge?
    Q—Questions for inquiry: What more do I need to Know—in order to clarify what people could do (A) or to revise/refine/support the knowledge claim (K)?
  8. Nature/culture distinctions play out in many different and contradictory ways. In turn, there are multiple rethinkings.  (List of 23 nature-culture dualisms from a 1996-97 seminar)


Haraway, D., 1989, “Teddy bear patriarchy: Taxidermy in the Garden of Eden, New York City, 1908-1936,” Primate visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Sciences, (eds.), New York: Routledge, 26-58.

Taylor, P. J., 2005, Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Taylor, P. J., 2008, “Why was Galton so concerned about “regression to the mean”?—A contribution to interpreting and changing science and society,” DataCrítica 2: 3-22. (http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/taylor07dGalton.pdf)


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