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Part 2: From history to current challenges

4 Western science in perspective and the search for alternatives
5 The institutionalization process
6 The behaviour of scientists and scientific communities
7 Technology, economics, and late industrialization
8 Technological capabilities
9 The environmental challenge

Part 2 marks the road from history to current challenges. Andrew Jamison puts modern science in perspective and discusses in what ways it bears the imprint of the civilization in which it emerged. Is there a Western bias built into the methods and uses of modern science and technology? There is a general lack of agreement about what Western science actually is, though clearly it has several dimensions: philosophical, including both cosmological issues and epistemological questions; sociological; and technological. Among the critiques, the author distinguishes the romantic critique, which has rediscovered the critical writings of poets and artists about the "single vision" of Western science, as well as reinterpreted the significance of mystical and occult science; the technological critique, taking its point of departure in the range of problems - from environmental destruction to structural unemployment and military escalation - that have been associated with science and technology; and the growing feminist critique of science that has emerged during the past 20 years, focusing on the gender biases at work in both the institutions and concepts of scientific research. The search for alternatives is marked by conflicts over the most appropriate way to develop "non-Western" ways of doing science: a traditionalist approach that has sought to revive the pre-colonial past in a more or less unadulterated form, and an integrative approach that has sought to combine elements of indigenous traditions (e.g. Islamic science). Finally, Jamison takes India as an example to illustrate how this tension between critical assimilation of Western science and a dogmatic reconstruction of non-Western tradition has played itself out.

Hebe Vessuri examines the historical process of institutionalization of Western science in developing countries, both as an instrument of the interests of the most advanced countries and as a result of active attempts by underdeveloped nations to master the knowledge that was the promise of modernity. Illustrating her argument with many examples, the author shows how at different times the major colonial powers and the new independent nations established science and technology institutions, giving rise to a variety of modes of institutionalization, with active government support and a wealth of cultural responses to Western learning. Nevertheless, it has been difficult for science to take root, particularly since it was expected to produce economic growth. Through all the differences of national contexts, Hebe Vessuri points to the tension present in developing countries between the assertion of national identity and autonomy and the socio-psychological feelings of peripherality, marginality, and invisibility.

Jacques Gaillard picks up and develops one specific dimension of the institutionalization process: the emergence of national scientific communities and styles of sciences in developing countries. The concept itself of "scientific community" has a variety of meanings, and most studies tend to conclude that none of the developing countries has a genuine scientific community and that there is a widening gap between the "least developed countries" and the "newly industrialized countries." The main conclusion of the survey carried out by the author on the origins, behaviour, and conditions of scientists in 78 countries is that scientists from developing countries find themselves faced with a dilemma: whether to participate in solving local problems or to follow the models and reference systems more or less imposed by the international scientific community. Third world scientists face several disadvantages compared with their colleagues in scientifically more advanced countries. Important handicaps relate to the visibility and the recognition of their scientific production in mainstream science. The challenge today for scientists is to gain in legitimacy, to find their place in a scientific community that has its own acknowledged place in society. Wherever scientific communities are emerging, the debate henceforth centres on the professionalization of their scientists, on the conditions under which scientific activities are performed, and on the capacity of the scientific communities to reproduce themselves and sustain their activities. Thus, Gaillard highlights a number of conditions that should be fulfilled for supporting the emergence and reproduction of endogenous scientific communities in developing countries

To address the economics of technological change, innovation, and production organization in countries of "late industrialization," Jorge Katz starts by underlining the drawbacks of conventional neoclassical growth models and points to an emerging heterodox theoretical paradigm. With these analytical tools, he then studies the way in which firms, markets, and institutions behaved in relation to the generation, diffusion, and utilization of technological knowledge during the import substitution industrialization of the 1960s and 1970s - a successful process of economic development - and how their behaviour has changed in the 1980s as a consequence of macroeconomic stabilization policies, the de-regulation of markets, and the opening up of the economy to foreign competition. Structural unemployment, an extremely adverse impact upon income distribution, equity, and welfare standards, increasing and more complex forms of social conflict' etc., appear as consequences of the continuing socio-economic restructuring process. The impact this process is having upon the rate and nature of technological change and the functioning of the national systems of innovation calls for: (i) sound macro-policy management; (ii) explicit industrial and technological policies capable of dealing with market failure; and (iii) addressing questions of social equity and political governability.

Sanjaya Lall argues that the development of national technological capabilities is the outcome of a complex interaction of incentive structures with human resources, technological effort, and institutional factors, mediated by government interventions to overcome market failures. It is the interplay of all these factors in particular country settings that determines, at the firm level, how well producers learn the skills and master the information needed to cope with industrial technologies and, at the national level, how well countries employ their factor endowments, raise those endowments over time, and grow dynamically in the context of rapidly changing technologies. The experience of eight industrializing countries is described to assess the validity of the proposed framework, illustrating the multiple models of industrial development based on varying combinations of incentives, capabilities, and institutions, and that each carries its own set of concomitant interventions. For the author, a large role remains for government policies, carefully and selectively applied, in promoting each of the three determinants of technological industrial development.

To conclude part 2, Ignacy Sachs examines the current environmental challenge. At the root of the first debate on environment and economic and the unconditionally ecological. The "middle path" development, or ecodevelopment - attempts to harmonize the three concerns of social equity, ecological prudence, and economic efficiency. The variables of the harmonization game are situated at both the demand and supply levels, as well as in the location of productive activities. The 20 years that separate the UN Stockholm Conference in 1972 from the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, though marked by slow progress towards ecologically and environmentally friendly development, reveal some progress conceptually, in particular with regard to the planners' and managers' toolbox, the debate on the ambiguity of sustainability, the emergence of a new paradigm in ecology and the global change. The author argues that at this stage little will be gained by pursuing the conceptual discussion of sustainable development; priority should be given instead to designing transition strategies towards the virtuous green path, taking into consideration the diverse configurations in the North and in the South in terms of wealth, technical capability, lifestyles, and compelling social problems. In this search for ecosystem, cultural, and site-specific responses to global problems, science and technology appear as a major, but by no means unique, variable capable of speeding up or delaying the transition. As the signposts for the future, Ignacy Sachs concentrates on four examples chosen because of their importance for a meaningful transition strategy, offering many opportunities for innovative use of resources: a one Kw per capita society, a modern plant (biomass) civilization for the tropical countries, the way this might be applied to the development of the Amazon region, and strategies for cities to be made livable in the twenty-first century.

4 Western science in perspective and the search for alternatives

Andrew Jamison

What is Western science?
The critiques
The search for alternatives
The example of India
The significance of the alternatives

Modern science and technology have developed within Western civilization, and they are the results, or products, of particular historical events and cultural conditions. But what, if anything, does the fact that modern science developed in a Western context mean for the knowledge that is produced and not produced - in non-Western developing countries? In recent years, it has become a matter of some importance and no little controversy to determine in what ways modern science bears the imprint of the civilization in which it emerged. Is there a Western bias built into the methods and uses of modern science and technology? And are there alternative, non-Western, traditions of knowledge production, long neglected and all but forgotten, that are in some sense more appropriate for developing countries?

What is Western science?

There is a general lack of agreement about what Western science actually is. For some critics, the "Westernness" of modern science lies in what is purported to be its characteristic world-view, its fundamental attitudes to Nature, reality, and knowledge; for others it is the social system and/or institutional framework within which knowledge production is embedded that is seen as being most Westernized; while for still others the problems lie in the technological applications and more general economic development strategies that are in some way seen to be derived from, or intertwined with, science. It may thus be useful at the outset to attempt to characterize the various dimensions of Western science before turning to the criticisms that have been levelled against it. Part of the problem with the critiques of Western science is that they have been partial critiques and have failed to provide what might be considered workable alternatives to the totality of Western science. The alternatives, like the critiques, have all too often been too narrowly focused to be effective.

The philosophical dimension

Let us begin with what might be called the philosophical dimension, which includes both cosmological issues (that is, discussions of dominant worldviews and attitudes to Nature) and epistemological questions: methodology, truth criteria, etc. Indeed, it is sometimes considered to be characteristically Western to separate the two: to divide philosophers from scientists, to distinguish those who are concerned with the nature of reality from those who are concerned with discovery of true knowledge about reality [58]. From the early nineteenth century, when Auguste Comte saw in the rise of the "positive" sciences a new rational basis for society that supplanted religion and metaphysics, positivists have seen philosophy and moral issues in general as being irrelevant to the production of knowledge. The "spiritual crisis" of the West is, at least in part, to be seen as the ensuing separation between facts and values and the more deep-rooted secularization of society and knowledge that came with it: what the German sociologist Max Weber called "disenchantment of the world."

While not every scientist working in the Western world has shared the same philosophical assumptions, there has none the less been a characteristic Western approach to Nature, derived from Judeo-Christian traditions and applied to most areas of scientific investigation. The central components of this attitude are objectification and reductionism. Non-human nature is seen as existing for man, and Nature is viewed as a realm of objects for man's potential use and benefit without any inherent subjective interests of its own. Against all vitalist and animist teachings, Western science has come to represent an objectifying, mechanizing way of knowing and doing. Furthermore, it has sought to reduce an understanding of reality down to its basic elements, namely the atoms and subatomic particles- as well as genes - that are seen through scientific instruments to exist in the invisible world of microscopic reality. Epistemologically, Western science can be said to be a deconstructive way of knowing: knowledge of reality is derived through analytical deconstruction of Nature into its component parts. At the same time, the identity of Western science is of a kind of knowledge that has no higher metaphysical or religious justification. It is an intrinsically instrumental knowledge, neither moral nor immoral in its ulterior motivation, in that morality as such is irrelevant to its mode of operation. By objectifying Nature and reducing reality to its component parts, the defenders of Western science have claimed to be able to provide a knowledge that is superior to, and more useful than, knowledges based on more speculative or holistic philosophies [66]. Even though the "truths" of Western science are intrinsically limited to those processes that can be investigated in the form of experiments or experiment-like operations, the knowledge that is produced has a reliability - and, most crucially, a verifiability - that knowledge produced by other means does not possess [103, 48].

Reductionism - literally the reducing of Nature to experimental demonstration - has been the dominant methodological doctrine since the seventeenth century scientific revolution did away with holism and organicism in the name of objectivity. Since that time, the epistemological criteria by which Western science can be said to produce a distinct form of truth have been based on experimental, or "objective," methods of discovery and rational, or "logical," criteria of verification. In this respect, Western science is one possible way of ordering reality, with particular ideas of what is to be considered true and accurate.

From the seventeenth century onwards, science in the West has been largely defined in terms of its methods, although different philosophers have emphasized different aspects as being central. For some, following an inductive, or empiricist, tradition identified with British philosophers such as Francis Bacon and John Stuart Mill, science has been defined by its use of observational and experimental procedures, i.e. by the manner in which its practitioners go about discovering or constructing the empirical "facts" of reality. For others, following a deductive, or rationalist, tradition more associated with continental philosophers such as René Descartes and Immanuel Kant, science has been defined by its use of mathematically based logical reasoning. In this tradition, it is primarily through its rational methods of argumentation that science is seen to be able to produce true knowledge, procedures derived from mathematics and logic rather than from any necessarily observable external reality. Science, from this vantage point, is an adventure of the mind: the uniqueness of the modern, Western variety is due to the rigour of its logic rather than the quality of its experimental techniques. Western science is thus most properly seen as not one but at least two different knowledge traditions, one associated with experimentation, the other with mathematical logic [37].

In the twentieth century, as the philosophy of science has itself become professionalized, a number of philosophers have attempted to combine the two epistemological traditions; one of the more influential efforts has been Karl Popper's theory of falsification, which seeks to depict a "logic of discovery" in the relationship between experimentation and theory building. Theories, according to Popper, are conjectures that are formulated in order to lead to refutations by experimental testing. Scientific knowledge is thus not the same thing as truth, but is better viewed as a process of growth toward ever closer approximations to truth. It is the process that is objective rather than any one particular result, a process that Popper has characterized as falsification [67].

A theory, for Popper, is always provisional; his view of science reflects a reaction to the dogmatic ideologies of his youth, the totalitarian Marxisms and fascist teachings with their absolute truth claims in both science and politics. Popper's philosophy of science depicts scientific research as an ongoing, living process, rather than a set of finished statements; science was a part of what he came to term the "open society" with a sceptical and critical attitude to truth [68]. His philosophy has the ambition, which is shared by many contemporary philosophers, to articulate the way in which scientific knowledge is actually produced, rather than an idealized vision of what science should be. For Popper and his followers, science progresses by continually subjecting its findings to criticism. And even though Popper's critical empiricism has come to be seen as ideological in its own right - for how many scientists really act the way Popper says they should? - it has helped to open the philosophy of science to a closer relation with sociology, history, and science itself.

In the 1960s, Imre Lakatos reformulated Popper's empiricism to take into account some of the background assumptions and "research programmes" that also affect the research process [38], and in recent years, philosophers have come to focus more on the process of experimentation itself rather than Popper's somewhat idealized portrayal of experimenting [26, 29]. Popper's empiricism, which seems to exclude a good deal of modern science from its exacting criteria (many theories simply cannot be experimentally falsified), has also come to be challenged by what might be called neorationalism, a kind of common-sensical view of science that limits epistemology to the semantic reconstruction of scientific statements [70]. While some philosophers have moved closer to the actual research process, others have taken what has been termed a linguistic turn and have come to concern themselves with the way in which scientific theories are constructed, formulated, and expressed [23].

Whatever their differences, however, both modern day rationalists and empiricists usually consider themselves "realists" and tend to close ranks against the various relativist philosophies that have been developed in recent years and that form, as we shall see, part of the contemporary critique of Western science. Where relativists or constructivists see scientific methods as context bound and the resultant findings as limited in their applicability, realists stress the operational, even universal, nature of scientific truth. Because of the particular methods of science, especially their reliance on experimental investigation and thus repeatable interactions with reality that produce verifiable data, science provides the most objective and unbiased knowledge that humans are able to produce. The realist truth claim is thus limited but none the less universal in its range.

It seems safe to say that almost all philosophers of science - and even most scientists - have shared a common "scientistic" faith; whether inductivists or deductivists, empiricists or rationalists, they have taken more or less for granted the superiority of scientific methods over other systems of knowledge or belief. Scientism, in this sense, is an outgrowth of the positivism first systematized by Auguste Comte in the nineteenth century, who contended that the growth of science marked a decisive, historical break, a huge cognitive step forward beyond metaphysics and religion [33]. According to positivism, science is to be distinguished from religion, metaphysics, even philosophy itself, by its reliance on impersonal, rational, objective methods. Even more than any particular epistemology or attitude to Nature, it is the positivist legacy, which in our day has taken the form of a scientistic mentality or belief system, that most of the more philosophically minded critics of Western science are attempting to challenge.

The sociological dimension

In contrast to the philosophical discourse, which locates the Westernness of modern science in its epistemology and world-view, there can also be said to be a distinctly Western sociological or organizational dimension. What makes science Western at this level is the way it has come to be organized in society and the corresponding social ethos or norm systems that it has built up [85]. Modern science, now international and global, took on much of its present character in western Europe in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the period that has come to be known, among other things, as the time of scientific revolution. In the transition of European societies from feudalism to industrialism - or capitalism - the modern scientist emerged as a kind of synthesis of the medieval scholar and the traditional artisan, with precursors among the artists and engineers of the Renaissance and Reformation [77].

The scientific academies of the seventeenth century, such as the Accademia del Cimento in Italy, the Royal Society in England, the Académie des Sciences in France, provided some of the first organized social spaces anywhere in the world for carrying out scientific research and communicating scientific results. No longer was scientific experimentation confined to private or secret laboratories; instead, experiments were carried out in public, with new, often state-financed instruments and under the auspices of royal, state patronage and support. Already in 1928, Martha Ornstein wrote that "it cannot be sufficiently stressed that it was the experimental character of science which encouraged the creation of scientific societies" [63, p. 67]. Recently, their crucial importance in providing "experimental spaces" has been discussed by a number of social historians [86, 30].

The academies were the first institutions of modern science, although museums, schools, and observatories in classical Greece and Rome, as well as in China, Africa, and the Islamic Middle East, had earlier provided temporary homes for the development of systematic technical and natural knowledge [45]. The difference can be seen as one between collecting information and producing knowledge, or, more colourfully perhaps, between hunting-gathering (and speculation) and conscious cultivation (and accumulation). Science, in its Western guise, has been characterized by a particular institutional and organizational form, a distinct "social relations" of knowledge production [49].

With the seventeenth century scientific revolution, science in the West came to be identified with experimental practice, mediated by technical instruments; the conscious development of instruments and experimental apparatus to accumulate what Francis Bacon termed "useful knowledge" is an important part of Western scientific identity, as is the conscious combination of practical skill and speculative thought [76]. What remained separated in other parts of the world, divided into the separate realms of scholarly endeavour on the one hand and practical learning on the other, was combined in Europe in an academic scientific praxis [102]. With the coming of the political and industrial revolutions of the late eighteenth century, science entered the universities and, in the process, what had until then been a relatively marginal societal activity came to be transformed into a profession.

The links with technology and industrial development were intensified during the nineteenth century, in new types of scientific universities, industrial research laboratories, and technological colleges, so that by the early twentieth century, science had become a legitimate and highly significant part of Western culture. It was this institutionalized science that was transferred to, or imposed upon, the rest of the world in the "age of imperialism," supplanting other, indigenously generated forms of knowledge production and dissemination [64]. By the time of the Second World War, modern science had been spread throughout the world, and it is as a global, international science, a shared possession of all mankind, that we know it today. But as a form of human praxis it bears the marks of a particularly Western mode of organization, with certain characteristic institutional imperatives or norms [2].

Modern science, it has been claimed, subscribes to a norm of universalism, by which its findings can be duplicated anywhere in the world by scientists of any race or nationality. In the words of the American sociologist Robert Merton, who formulated the norm in an influential essay in 1942, "The acceptance or rejection of claims entering the lists of science is not to depend on the personal or social attributes of their protagonist; his race, nationality, religion, class and personal qualities are as such irrelevant. Objectivity precludes particularism.... The imperative of universalism is rooted deeply in the impersonal character of science" [52, p. 553]. For Merton, writing in the midst of the Second World War, when Nazi Germany sought to impose a nationalist "Aryan" ideology on its science, the universalism of Western science was a progressive attribute, indeed a central condition of progress itself. Universalism was linked to objectivity, or what Merton called "organized skepticism" and "disinterestedness" to establish a set of values that could ensure a knowledge free from ideological bias and that was central to a Western democratic societal developmental process.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Merton's sociological approach complemented the neoempiricism that Karl Popper was developing within the philosophy of science. Throughout the international academic culture, science came to be identified as the type of knowledge that had emerged in western Europe in the seventeenth century, a combination of experimentation and logic, a "hypothetico-deductive" knowledge linking the worlds of the craftsman/inventor to those of the scholar/mathematician. This science emerged in a particular kind of institutional setting and it established particular roles and functions within the emerging industrial capitalist society [4]. Indeed, as an organizational form, Western science can be defined, since the seventeenth century, as that kind of knowledge production that has taken place in specifically designated scientific institutions: first academies, then research laboratories, and finally R&D establishments. It is thus an expert knowledge, a kind of understanding that is considered legitimate and professional within a certain kind of society. It was to be distinguished from religious knowledge and metaphysical knowledge not only through a more all-encompassing philosophical goal or ambition, but through its organizational structure and the roles it played in industrial society.

The technological dimension

It is particularly since the Second World War, with the rise of so-called Big Science, that the Westernness of science has come to be seen not merely in philosophical or sociological terms; as science has become ever more important in the industrial and "post-industrial" political economy, attention has come to be directed to the productive, economic uses of scientific knowledge. What is seen as characteristic of Western science is no longer merely the internal truth criteria and attitude to Nature nor the institutional norms and social roles: Western science has come to be seen as integral to industrialization itself [39, 75]. There has developed, among economists and engineers, the notion of the innovation chain, by which basic scientific results are transformed into industrial products. It is its place in the innovation process, the capacity of Western scientific ideas to be able to be turned into profitable products, that is now seen by many to be most characteristic of Western science. For those involved in the planning and administration of science, the particularly Western styles of management and application have come to be seen as most significant. Even more, it is the integration of science and technology, the very industrialization of science and the transformation of knowledge itself into a commodity, that is seen as most characteristic of the Western style of knowledge production [72].

The industrialization of science can be seen as having gone through three main stages since the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries [98]. In a first stage, scientific education came to be oriented toward industrial needs by the creation of new scientific universities and technical "high schools" and the infusion of science and laboratory teaching into university curricula. The new technologies also led to new scientific discoveries and theories, in thermodynamics, electricity, organic chemistry, geology, etc. From the second half of the nineteenth century, industrial research laboratories started to be established, in both Europe and the United States, and, in this second stage, engineering grew closer to science in its organizational and conceptual identity. The final stage, which is more recent and still developing, involves a more systemic process of integration, connecting science, engineering, marketing, and management into a more all-encompassing technostructure or techno-science. The industrialization of science is thus a pattern of interlinkages and mutual influencing, so that science in the late twentieth century is no longer the same thing that it was in the seventeenth century. It is now ever more difficult to separate science from its technical uses, or to extract it, as some kind of pure ideational essence, from the innovation chains and corporate strategies in which it has become enmeshed.

Of course, this particular dimension is no longer geographically confined to the "West"; indeed, the economic application of science is, if anything, more actively pursued in East Asia than anywhere else in the world, although it is possible in this age of relativity to view Japan and Korea as the - extremely - Far West, and thus their development of the economic dimension of Western science can be seen as an extension, rather than an alternative. The Asian countries are not challenging the underlying logic of science and technology; they are, on the contrary, following that logic with a dedication and commitment that seems to be weakening in many of the originating Western countries.

However we are to view the Japanese assimilation of science and capitalism, the economic dimension involves the ways in which scientific knowledge is linked to the commodity form characteristic of the historical development of Western industrial capitalism. It was in the age of what Karl Marx called modern industry, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, that economic development has come to be based on the results of systematic scientific investigations into the properties of natural phenomena and, increasingly, the functions of man-made artefacts. Western science is thus that form of knowledge that is "oriented" to technological use and application [36]. It is also, and perhaps most centrally for many of those who have criticized it, that form of knowledge production that has lent itself to technocratic visions and developmental strategies. It is, as such, indistinguishable from Western technology, which in its "neo-imperialist" pattern of transfer to non-Western societies is often identified as one of the main contributors to underdevelopment itself [74].

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