I recently finished reading Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison’s “Objectivity”. In this very interesting book, the authors argue that the notion of scientific objectivity has evolved over time. They have divided the course of this evolution into three main phases: truth-to-nature, mechanical objectivity, and trained judgement. During each phase, the main view of objectivity is dominant, but previous phases are still important to the overall idea of what objectivity means in the scientific community.
The epistemological virtues of objectivity can be divided into four major aspects: persona, ontology, image, and practice. For each phase of objectivity, each aspect has different qualities. For instance, the scientific persona becomes a sage during the truth-to-nature phase, a worker during the mechanical objectivity phase, and an expert during the trained judgement phase. Similarly, the ontology aspect passed through the qualities of universals-particulars-families, the image aspect passed through reasoned-mechanical-interpreted, and practice passed through the stages selection and synthesis-automated transfer-pattern recognition.
The evolutionary phases of objectivity, as well as the qualities of the epistemological virtues seen as the four aspects, is beautifully shown by many examples from a collection of scientific atlases. Anyone interested in the history of science as well as the notion of scientific objectivity should enjoy this book.
I thought it was also remarkable that these four aspects of objectivity were very similar to the four aspects of the Archic Matrix of Watson and Dilworth.
Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison / Objectivity