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Re: Merton and the norms of science

Indeed, I would urge you all to take a look at Mitroff's book, "The Subjective Side of Science: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Psychology of the Apollo Moon Scientists" (Elsevier, 1974), which is a wide-ranging critique of the standard idealized model of scientific inquiry. It's available through Amazon.

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State Press

Robert Merton's norms of science (Universalism, Communality,
Disinterestedness, and Organized Scepticism) are alive and well in
scientific communities and should not be written off as ignoring
scholarly behavior, as per Michael Mabe's response.  A further
reading of Merton's later works describe the personal nature of
science and the conflicts between impersonal norms (e.g.
universalism) with personal norms (e.g. secrecy). Ian Mitroff puts
these norms and counter-norms together in a wonderful piece that
interviews lunar scientists during the course of the Apollo
missions.  Its a must-read for anyone studying the sociology of
science (including scientometrics) and helps place scientific
communication in perspective.

"For if science were also exclusively founded on the norms of
disinterestedness, universalism, and community, I doubt science
could have arisen as we know it. The point is that each norm is
restrained and if any were unrestrained, science would probably
collapse." (p.593)

Mitroff, I. I. (1974). Norms and Counter-Norms in a Select Group of
the Apollo Moon Scientists: A Case Study of the Ambivalence of
Scientists. American Sociological Review, 39, 579-595.

--Phil Davis