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Opening Pandora's Black Box

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"Opening Pandora's Black Box" is an Article by sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour in Science in Action. How to follow scientists and engineers through society.


  • 3 film-like ‘scenes’
    • each depicting individuals doing research on a limited field
    • Question: ‘Where can we start a study of science and technology?”
    • All experience difficulties that could be solved if the three ‘scenes’ were merged
  • Concept of black box: something that is too complicated to be understood but crucial for going on
    • possibilities:
      • open: being developed if necessary to be understood
      • closed: complete - > no further need to understand it
    • Consequence: ‘Science has two faces: one that knows (ready made science), the other one that does not know yet (science in making)’
    • Janus-face of closed black boxes (ready made science) and open black boxes (science in progress / making)
    • Two perspectives - > different emphasis: what is necessary for the one side must not be necessary for the other side
      • issues of both ‘faces’ are similar but different
      • only few people touched inner working of ‘science in making’
      • ‘discipline’ and ‘object’ are misleading: examples show that interdisciplinary work is more effective
  • Science should work outside of ‘disciplines’ to make use of all approaches

Critique / Thoughts / Ideas

Basically, B. Latour makes a point. By giving priority to economic necessities scientists may stop doing research on specific items which might be discovered if no bounding would exist. By focussing on the question what should be philosophers sometimes seem to loose the view to reality. Competition for example - criticised by him as hindering scintific approach - is de facto the driving force behind research in our society.

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This page was last modified on 15 October 2008, at 07:44.
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