By Peter Duren

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The false dichotomy of anti-science Left vs. pro-science Right must be abandoned. Though still very simplistic, it would be much better to stake out four distinct positions—a pair of pro-science views and a pair of anti-science views. This is only tentative. Later we will have to make serious revisions to the picture, but it will serve us well for the moment. Recall that “scientific orthodoxy” was discussed above. I sketched my version; others might prefer something slightly different. A precise definition isn’t necessary or even useful.

More generally, there is strong opposition from this quarter to what is seen as the intrusion of science into aspects of life that should be governed by moral and religious concerns. The attitude says, for example: don’t try to give scientific accounts of homosexual activity, or of juvenile delinquency, or of drug and alcohol dependency, or of teenage pregnancy, since doing so really amounts to making improper excuses for immoral behavior. We’re in the domain of free choice, says the religious Right, where God’s judgment, not science, belongs.

The spectrum of social constructivist opinion is enormous. Again, these are more things to be sorted out in the course of this book. For my money the most interesting thing about the science wars is the fight for the Left. There is a wide cluster of social goals shared by those on the Left, but there is serious disagreement over the best way to attain them. This leads us to some crucial questions: What role, if any, does science play in creating, sustaining, or changing the social order? What role, if any, do social factors play in the production and maintenance of scientific theories?

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