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But they belonged to and had powerful friends in the Royal Society.Because of this, and because it wanted to maintain its access to the data Hevelius and Auzout could provide, the Royal Society had a strong interest in managing the dispute so as to minimize enmity among their partisans, and to preserve their reputations as trustworthy observers.In a fascinating and authoritative survey of material from 17th century "courtesy literature" on what it is to be, to act, and to speak like a gentleman, from political philosophy and from Bacon, Locke, and other scientifically minded philosophers of the period, from the scientific correspondence of the Royal Society, and from the life and writings of Robert Boyle, Shapin extracts seven maxims (212ff) which the prudent l7th century gentleman should use to assess the credibility of empirical claims.So evaluated, the acceptability of a claim would depend to a great extent, upon how closely the person who made it conformed to the picture of a gentleman set out in the courtesy literature and related ethical and political writings.Shapin uses a third case study--the Royal Society's handling of a controversy between the astronomers, Hevelius and Auzout, over the position and trajectory of a comet observed in the mid 1660s--to argue for the similarity between scientific discourse and conversation.Neither disputant met all of the conditions for gentility.
Shapin's primary focus is on scientific claims developed by Robert Boyle and other 17th century members and correspondents of the Royal Society.
He orients his study in opposition to some received views about science and scientific discourse.
One is epistemological individualism--the official position of the British empiricists--according to which the "legitimate springs of empirical knowledge" are located, not in the discourse of groups of people, but "in the individual's sensory confrontation with the world" (202).
Shapin believes, to the contrary, that even if this contrast between conversation and scientific discourse is "...a significant actor's distinction...," the historian or sociologist can "...illuminat[e] the nature of scientific practice..." analyzing it on the model of conversation (352).
Social and political communities cannot thrive, and their members cannot fruitfully pursue their goals without mutual trust and the sociability and cooperation it fosters (10-13) and Shapin argues that the same holds for "communities" of working scientists.
have to be explained mainly in terms of the "identities of individuals"?