Welcome to the wiki supporting "The Normative in STS" (STS 5424, 18493) for spring 2013 at Virginia Tech.

"The normative," writes Stephen Turner (2010), "is the small boy with the stone against the massive force in modern philosophy of naturalism, materialism, physicalism, and causalism; forces that draw their power from the success of science." STS, too, draws its power from the success of science. In this course we will examine STS as the setting for normative debates. The central debate we will take up regards the apparent distinction between normative philosophical approaches concerned with what science ought to be, and empirical sociological approaches concerned with what science actually is. In addition, we will examine normative theories of technology in relation to conceptions of the good life. Our judgments about the normative in STS may well shape our approaches to scholarship as we consider the question: Are STS practitioners, and supporters, in a position to determine what science and technology ought to be and to tell scientists, technologists and the public what they should do about it?

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