Kieran O’Doherty (University of Guelph) – “Psychological Contributions to Science & Technology Studies” – STS Departmental Seminar Series
Psychological Contributions to Science & Technology Studies
Kieran O’Doherty (University of Guelph)
Science and technology are central to almost all domains of human activity, for which reason they are the focus of subdisciplines such as philosophy of science, philosophy of technology, sociology of knowledge, history of science and technology. Further, multidisciplinary programs such as Science and Technology Studies (STS) focus on a systematic investigation of the dynamic relationships between science, technology and human life. Many contributions to STS question mechanistic and universalistic scientific visions and instead argue for a socially and culturally situated conception of the production of scientific knowledge and technological artifacts. To date, psychology has been marginal in this space, and the contributions that have come from psychology have tended to come from relatively narrow epistemological orientations. Indeed, it is arguably because of mainstream psychology’s adherence to a vision of itself as a science modelled on the natural sciences – universal, objective, guided by a view of humans as a collection of variables to be measured – that it has failed to engage meaningfully with STS. To counter this trend my colleagues (Ernst Schraube, Lisa Osbeck, Jeffery Yen) and I recently collected contributions on the study of science and technology specifically from psychologists working from perspectives we see as more aligned with STS (“Psychological Studies of Science and Technology” to be published by Palgrave-Macmillan). Among others, contributors’ orientations include theoretical psychology, critical psychology, feminist psychology, queer psychology, history of psychology, and qualitative psychology. In this presentation I reflect on the position of psychology vis-à-vis STS and argue that a pluralistic vision of psychology has much to offer.