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[Xmca-l] Re: in the eye of the beholder
Let me explain my comments better. I think the WEIRD article is wonderful. I think it is very important to recognize that knowledge is produced by humans in social configurations through rhetorical means. I think it is very important to understand the limited perspectives that have gone into the construction of our knowledge and how to expand those perspectives to get richer, fuller views that produce results that are more reliable and more widely applicable and are less stigmatizing of human variation, ideologies, cultures. It is important to the advance of knowledge to understand these things. It is also important for us to understand how it is we can keep creating progressively better maps of the world we live in and are part of.
Concepts such as accountability (as I used it), and warrantable assertability (as Michael and Dewey used it), is to bring knowledge production into human processes, which are fallible, contingent, and limited, but which advance by bringing more persuasive evidence to bear in order to reframe perspectives and make more phenomena persuasively visible. This is exactly what the WEIRD article does and what Medin and Bang do. This is exactly what persuasive gender, ethnicity, and cultural studies do.
Having lived through the "science wars" of the eighties, having produced a rhetorical history of scientific papers, and having been attacked both by one side as being an enemy of science and by the other as being a naive realist, I see the project of finding a way to understand the production and use of evidence within different rhetorical discursive fields as a significant and incomplete task. The value is both methodological/epistemological and political.
The politics of this are that showing we have ways for the empirical project to go forward but in more enlightened ways will in the long run gain more allies than only opposing and rejecting the science we find narrow in its perspective. Otherwise we are too easily perceived as "enemies of science." The culture of science aims at moving forward and will find ways of incorporating persuasive views that do not put it in a dead end. We do not do ourselves a service by making it appear our opposition is so categorical as to appear to impose a dead end. The successes of science are sufficient that they will just roll over any roadblock we attempt to put in place. Not long ago, for example, the general belief was that it was a single thing and that the writing aspect was trivial. By now, almost all recognize that scientific writing has a history and evolves and varies. That does not discredit scientific writing, but is just the way things work out in the human practice of co
ming to knowledge. Many scientists are incorporating contingent, historical, rhetorical, and cultural perspectives in their understandings of what they are doing. But the project of expanding our view is long, and perhaps never ending. Yet we seek, like the blind person with the stick, to understand our surroundings and our selves, so that we can move more freely and successfully through the world.
Concerning Climate-Change deniers, creationists, and others, our account of science needs to be able to warrant why we do not find their claims or their evidence, such as it is, persuasive. And we need to be able to distinguish on principled grounds, the difference between such regressive ideologies which ignore persuasive evidence and substantive cultural critiques which are grounded in persuasive evidence and open our eyes wider, to understand that it is important to ask, who is asking and who is WEIRD.