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Schaffer Turns to Practice April 7, 2009

Posted by Will Thomas in Schaffer Oeuvre.
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The two articles we are looking at today are among the best-known works of Simon Schaffer:

(1) “Astronomers Mark Time: Discipline and the Personal Equation,” Science in Context 2 (1988): 115-145.

(2) “Glass Works: Newton’s Prisms and the Uses of Experiment,” in The Uses of Experiment: Studies in the Natural Sciences (1989), edited by David Gooding, Trevor Pinch, and Simon Schaffer.

19th-century glass factory

19th-century glass factory

The articles stand at an important turning point in Schaffer’s oeuvre, and their style should be very familiar to history of science professionals working in the last 20 years, because both depart from Schaffer’s early concern with the construction of systems of ideas, and both put a specific epistemic practice under the microscope, in this case: striving for precision in observation, and replicating experimental results.  At the time, though, these kinds of studies were reasonably novel.  The Uses of Experiment volume, in particular, was an (more…)