Review of The Social History Of Truth by Steven Shapin Chapter 1 When someone says that something is true,they are usually stating that it corresponds to the facts of how things really are. Academic philosopher’s distiningish what is true and what is taken to be true by a process of sorting? No single being can constitute knowledge. All one can do is offer claims, with evidence, arguments and inducements to the community for its assessment. Knowledge is the result of the communities for its evaluations and action. Trust and the order of society went hand in hand.
Richard Rorty believed that if epistemological differenting motion of the truth occurred. Then an “inforced” agreement should be reached. Popper pointed that most of what we know about the world is based on the observations and communications of others. Trust is a great force in science. It is an unending means for the extension and modification of knowledge. Communication of the world around us through reports is very important in our understanding. Reports may vary because individuals are differently situated in time and space.
What one man sees may not be what the others see because they have different points of view or perception of the same scene. Trust is the power of the social world. Trusted persons make some set of their future actions predictable when they make promises and they agree to forgot a certain amount of free action. It is this recognition of free action is at the center of the culture that justifies trust and allows trust to b accomplished and social order to be built and sustained. Chapter 2 Gentlemen were the only ones that possessed the quality of truthfulness.
This quality was grounded in his placement in social, biological and economic circumstances. According to Sir Thomas Smith England was made up of four estates: king, major and minor nobility, gentlemen and yeomen. All were considered gentlemen except the yeomen. Gentlemen made up one to five percent of the English population. This small percent held all of the wealth and political power and spoke on behalf of the rest. Gentlemen were characterized according to their wealth. Much of their income came in the form of rents and agricultural land tilled by the unfree.
The gentleman was under no obligation to work and was free of want. Aristotle characterized gentlemen to have ancient riches and virtue. The gentleman could also be characterized by their idleness. According to 17th century Tudor and Stuart heralds it toke three generations of gentry’s blood to make a gentleman, making lineage important in identifying gentlemen. According to Gouge, God ordained gentlemen. When it came to deciding what was most important in defining a gentleman many writings of the time tented to believe that one’s virtue was more important than one’s lineage.
One could become a gentleman by marriage, money, education, professional standing, court and military service and in rare cases through displays of virtue not connected with the aforementioned. It is believed that one who inherits gentry by means of ones heredity, must work very hard to obtain virtue in order to keep the title of gentleman. Virtue was considered the greatest symbol of gentry. Christianized culture of such virtue was also a quality of a true gentleman. Chapter 3 A gentleman’s word was his bond. Whatever he said was the cause or to secure his obligations to do what he promised was guaranteed.
To require more surety was to imply that he was not a gentleman. To trust a man’s word was to establish the man as being honorable. Honor was translated into power by way of knowledge. This honor culture molded truth to the contour of power. Montigue believed that truth was the first part of virtue. The giving of one’s word bound an individuals honor to a course of action. Failure to perform or live up to one’s word resulted in one’s honor being cancelled. It is widely believed that the word of a gentleman should be received and credited more than the word of a commoner.
Just as the word of thee Bible is considered a source of truth, for there is no motive for God to deceive or lie. Lying, according to Aristotle and Cicero was vile and mean. One who lied was considered fearful and weak. To lie was a sin in itself. Gentlemen were considered competent sensory agents. All normal gentlemen were considered to be perceptually competent. Gentlemen were reputated as being reliable agents of truths because they were independent and in no way were obligated to the will of another.
Women on the other hand, were considered to be unreliable sources of truth because they were dependent on their husbands or fathers and would take a social standing in their favor. Servants were also unreliable because they were dependent and subject to the will of their master. The mercantile and trading class couldn’t be held as reliable agents of truth because they told untruths for advantage purposes. Dueling was the final defense of gentlemanly honor. This violent action is considered to be sinful and an insult to God. It was used as a means to manifest the truth.
A duel usually came into play when an insult or mentita occurred. The Royal Society avoided insult to one another on the truths of matters and instead engaged in civil conversation. Chapter 4 Robert Bolye was the most influential of experimental philosophy. He provided much of the factual information the 17th century experimentalists operated on. Boyle was considered the founder of experimental philosophy. Robert Boyle was the youngest son of Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork. Richard Boyle was the founder of his family’s honor; it is believed that his parents were yeomen.
He made his money through the rents of various Irish lands and married into more fortune when he married Robert’s mother. Richard Boyle was a Protestant hero as well as a gentleman. He died when Robert was a youngster. Robert Boyle was heavily influenced by his tutor Isaac Marcombes and by the idea that his father wanted his sons to be idea Christian gentlemen. Possessing gentry through his birth opened many doors for Boyle, who believed that it was good to be richer than one’s condition. The Christian gentleman who attained moral control of himself was believed to have great integrity, courage, faithfulness and magnanimity.
Boyle believed that God had superintendence over his welfare. The devil was the father of lies. Boyle believed that if one was true to theirself, then they could not be false to any man. This was achieved through self-contemplation; one was to avoid idleness in order to achieve virtue. In all that Boyle published, he toke a disengaged presentation of his authorial self to remind his readers that he was not professionally committed to the claims in his texts. This procedure allowed him to be a valuable resource, for he would have no reason to misrepresent how things were in nature.
Burnet described Boyle as a man who had successfully attained and valued all of the respected and valuable characteristics of the gentleman, the Christian and the scholar. Chapter 5 Travelers from the New Worlds brought back various objects and told of the ways in the New World. Just as observers using telescopes and microscopes claimed to reveal more marvels of the world. These new things and marvels were fundamental to the emergence of new knowledge and intellectual practices. A new process of verifying the empirical truth had to be proposed and put into place.
Even if implausible claims can not be established as true, they can not be completely dismissed as being false. Francis Bacon suggested that there should be a tendency to distrust novel claims. While,William Gilbert instructed doubting readers not to distrust experimental relations because they went against traditional experience and authorities. There was a proper and valuable role for testimony and trust within empirical practices. There were three reasons for such recognition of pragmatic considerations,formal epistemological justifications, and moral arguments had to do with the cultural value placed upon knowledge founded upon testimony.
First,it was acknowledged that experience also consisted of the reliable testimony of other’s sensory perceptions of the world. Second, reliance of true testimony condoned in the context of formal discussions of the natures of different kinds of knowledge. Third, moral justification for testimony went into pragmatic and formal epistemological apologies. Testimony was a valuable source for making knowledge and the order of society. It was also believed that uncontrolled testimony would destroy knowledge and the social order.
John Locke gives seven maxims for the evaluation of testimony in 17th century literature. 1) Assent in testimony which is plausible;2)assent to testimony which is multiple;3)assent to testimony that is consistent;4)assent to testimony that is immediate; 5)assent to testimony from skilled and knowledgeable sources;6)assent to testimony given in a manner which inspires a just confidence and 7)assent to testimony from sources of acknowledged integrity and disinterestedness. This invocation of “balancing” has been in use and has been found to be very successful.
One who knew how to evaluate testimony was said to know their way around cultural systems. The evaluation of testimony was considered a skill-like capacity. The testimony of a credible person was just known. Gentlemen were considered society’s most reliable truth-tellers. Chapter 6 Travelers, navigators, merchant-traders, adventurers and soldiers contributed the knowledge of early modern natural history or natural philosophy. These various peoples told the Royal Society of things in the world that were beyond their own experience.
As John Locke suggested, some weighing and balancing of factors was needed to verify testimony. There was a problem with believing traveler’s tales because their tales were usually conflicted with what was securely known about the world and those who knew little or nothing at all usually told them. In the early 1660’s Boyle took on the task of documenting the effects of cold on natural bodies. In order to do that, Boyle needed information about the extreme coldness in countries abroad. He preferred to have direct testimony, multiple testimonies and knowledgeable testimony. He relied heavily upon traveler’s texts.
Especially that of Captain Thomas James (1633) Stranger and Dangerous Voyage and the direct writing of letter from Samuel Collins a physician in Russia. James and Collins had recognizable signs of credibility in which Boyle did not doubt. In his study about icebergs, Boyle found inconsistency in the testimonies of various seamen. To fix these inconsistencies in testimony Boyle could have rejected them altogether or deduce some other cause for the variations. The later he did and found that the size of icebergs could vary because they may be on the sea-bed, or saltwater was heavier and seawater may be reluctant to freeze.
Boyle claimed that air had weight and pressure that was exerted isotropically. Under artificially arranged conditions those things that were considered phenomena could be brought into light with ontological claims and made powerful to support them. Boyle also resolved matters concerning the validity of reports on pressures experienced underwater in the sea and of the sight of a comet. Boyle was a master of credibility. If he was to introduce a candidate to the system of recognition. Boyle would warranted that the person testimony to be true.
Chapter 7 Robert Boyle believed that the right place and role of mathematics in experimental philosophy pertained to the civility of that practice. The scientific culture of the 17th century probably only had three mathematically expressed laws of nature in physics. These were the laws of refection, Snell’s and Decartes’ law of refraction and Galileo’s law of free falling objects. All of which were expressed in geometrical form. Robert Boyle did not write Boyles’ law, for which he is most known. Boyles law is: P1V1=P2V2 (where temperature is constant).
It is most likely that it was composed by Boyles’ said assistant Papin and Hooke had a great responsibility for the way it was represented in text. Robert Boyle knew that the exactness of our knowledge of physical bodies could be limited by divine power. Boyle believed that if miracles in the Scriptures were true and if they involved a suspension or alteration of normal course of nature then there were real limitations upon the character and quality of our physical knowledge. Boyle often identified himself as a mechanical philosopher.
No view of the material world was better suited to produce physical explanation that was mathematical in form. He was reluctant to push mechanical accounts into mathematical form. He understood mathematics to encompass an abstract and private form of culture. Experimental testimony was supposed to report the specific results of historical investigations. Reliable knowledge of real physical bodies and processes was to be secures by experimental inquiry, not by mathematical speculation. Chapter 8 Robert Boyle wrote that his paid assistant Denis Papin was the man that designed and preformed the air- pump experiments.
Boyle was only present during the experiments and read the entirety of the experiment to make sure there were no mistakes. A servant that usually observed the experiments and engaged in Boyle’s experiments as an assistant assisted Boyle on occasion. It is believed that Boylr did not construct the glass J- shaped tube that yielded the law of pressures and volumes, nor did he build the machine Boyleana. They were constructed by his assistants. Work Cited Shapin, Steven. A Social History Of Truth. Chicago:The University of Chicago Press. 1994.