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Quoting Ingbert Floyd <[log in to unmask]>:
>I'm curious about the use of metaphor
> and models in research and how they lead to understanding. A strict
> epistemological interpretation might hold that even models of atoms
> are a metaphor on some level. First, we can never know if our models
> of what is out there actually correspond to what exists.
Correspondence theory in the philosophy of science/epistemology is still a hot
topic; it covers models a great deal. In the social sciences, people like
Andrew Abbott think about some of these things--see, for instance, his Methods
With categories, I try to apply the "what isn't one" test and then ask if the
resultant dichotomy or gradient is useful. What isn't a structural hole? Hard
to answer--thus problematic. Questions of scale (in planning, urban affairs,
regional studies, etc.) flummox a lot of social scientists. On the other hand,
questions of category and taxonomy flummox nearly everyone. What are species?
There is still terrific argument over that in biology. It is largely settled,
but largely settled is like sort of pregnant for a science studies devotee--and
for many scientists.
You press home the point that we are trapped in epistemology and that everyone
needs to understand it better. One of my professors (I am, like you, a
graduate student)calls for "ontological disclosures" on every piece of
scholarship where people say essentially what their scholarly genealogy
is--what used to be handled by disciplines. Now with interdisciplinarity, do I
trust someone just because they are at Harvard, Oxford, or Toronto? Not as much
as people did in the past I dare say. I have no idea, for instance, what
institutions in Eastern Europe are credible, but it strikes me that Slovakia
does great work in SNA, Finland does great work in computer science and AI,
etc. But these are judgments I must learn. In the past fields were dominated
by a few schools--a few identity ontologies. If you didn't link to UC Santa
Cruz or Harvard or Michigan State, etc. maybe you weren't worth listening to on
SNA. These are disciplines as ontologies and that is the domain of science
studies (if you wish to discipline it!) In my opinion, it is much harder today
because we are forced into network identities rather than discipline identities.
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