Trans-Science as a Vocation

Eyal, Gil

This paper compares Weber’s argument in “Science as a vocation,” with Physicist Alvin Weinberg’s discussion of the distinction between science and “trans-science,” as two contrasting blueprints for boundary-work. It argues that Weber’s empirical reasons for separating the scientific discussion of means and the extra-scientific discussion of ends – namely, the thesis of “disenchantment” – no longer serves as a useful approach to understanding the growth of “trans-science” or “expertise” over the last century. It advances an understanding of the latter as an intermediary sphere wherein facts and values, means and ends, are necessarily entangled because expertise is crucial to the production of legitimacy in liberal-democratic societies. The paper concludes by asking what is the responsibility of the scientist as trans-scientist or expert and what institutions would best embody and support this vocation.


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Journal of Classical Sociology

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October 18, 2019