Truth may be defined as "undistorted knowledge." Straightforward as that definition may appear, there are seemingly endless problems associated with specifying truth standards. Positivists maintain that truth must be defined with respect to empirically observable criteria. In response, power elite theorists have asserted that due to the interventions of power-brokers, observable reference points are untrustworthy. Further, postmodernists have concluded that due to the pervasive influences of cultural power, the pursuit of universal truth should be aborted. In spite of these pessimistic appraisals, this article advances an epistemology that is founded upon an "evolving" but nonetheless universal definition of truth.
Thomas Kuhn (1970) argued that scientific revolutions take place when dominant paradigms are dislodged by emergent paradigms. Science undergoes such transitions when established paradigms fail to account for an increasing number of empirical anomalies. Anomalies may be understood as enigmas for which existing knowledge systems lack convincing explanations. Kuhn's perspective challenged the previously accepted view that the accumulation of scientific knowledge was a rational stepwise process, i.e., each landmark discovery being anticipated with logical precision and, once established, elevated consensually atop a vertical tower of knowledge. Instead, Kuhn contended that paradigm shifts are much messier undertakings that are marked by infighting, political subterfuge, and a host of other unscientific antics. In other words, though scientists are generally loath to admit it, the accumulation of scientific knowledge is a social enterprise and is, thus, replete with human shortcomings.
Though Kuhn's revelations stirred a great deal of discomfort in the scientific community, nevertheless, his analysis exposed crucial insights about the knowledge accumulation process. Although many scientists insist that the scientific method is founded upon a process of induction--the disinterested amalgamation of isolated facts that gradually expose more general patterns of understanding--Kuhn asserts that "normal science" operates within deductive paradigms: Paradigms are broad, assumption-laden worldviews that supply a theoretical foundation into which scientists integrate facts and observations. For example, (while from our 21st century perspective we might be inclined to smirk, nevertheless) devotees of the geocentric paradigm eagerly pointed to the circular motion of heavenly bodies as compelling empirical support for their perspective.
Capable as paradigms may be of illuminating a range of empirical phenomena, they are also plagued by shortcomings. As illustrated by the preceding example, paradigms perform the invaluable service of rendering "the known universe" intelligible and, as a result, paradigms also provide a structure within which knowledge can be organized cohesively and through which truth-seekers can collaborate constructively. Nevertheless, a paradigm's Achilles heel lies in the truism that the parameters of the known universe are constantly in flux: curious humans incessantly generate novel observations about a constantly changing universe. Again, popular as geocentrism once may have been, an overload of anomalous heavenly phenomena (e.g., comets, retrograde motion, Jupiter's moons, etc.) inevitably doomed the paradigm. When paradigms are overwhelmed by a critical mass of anomalies they enter a phase that Kuhn described as a "crisis." Paradigm crisis is roughly the scientific equivalent of a skipper's signal to abandon ship. Having sprung more epistemological leaks than its adherents can hope to plug, a paradigm in crisis forces its supporters to make fateful decisions: either to jump ship or, having staked out a career upon the foundering vessel, to stay aboard until the bitter end.
Paradigm crisis is a precursor to full scale scientific revolution. According to Kuhn, a scientific revolution comprises a transition through which scientists replace an outmoded paradigm with a new one. Generally speaking, the new paradigm has the advantage of being, so to speak, a more seaworthy vessel, i.e., it resolves many of the anomalies that sank its precursor. Therefore, for a period of time, the new paradigm can confidently go about the process of enlisting recruits and navigating rough scientific seas; that is, until the process inexorably repeats itself and the updated paradigm is gradually beset by its own set of leaks.
Kuhn developed this non-linear view of scientific knowledge accumulation based upon his examination of the history of science. In particular, Kuhn noted that scientific paradigms often incorporate foundational assumptions that are antithetical to the leading assumptions of succeeding paradigms, e.g., one cannot maintain an honest intellectual commitment to creationism and evolutionary theory without suffering from multiple personality disorder. It requires the intervention of an historical revisionist to invent a smooth, linear transition from one scientific paradigm to the next. As such, some critics have asserted that Kuhn's thesis exposed science as a fundamentally relativistic endeavor (Lakatos and Musgrave, 1970). In other words, the fact that successive paradigms tend to be epistemologically contradictory suggests that there is no essential consistency (i.e., no inherent "truth") in scientific progress. That is, if scientific "truth" is linked to the assumptions upon which scientific paradigms are founded and, in turn, if scientific paradigms are disposable, then even in the most rigorous scientific endeavors truth must be only a provisional, transitory standard. In a world of paradigm shifts, truth would appear to be a chimera.
In keeping with this attitude, copious aspersions have been cast on scientific truth--and most abundantly from postmodernists. Nevertheless, far from indicating an absence of truth, in this paper I will argue that (r)evolutionary innovations in the structure of scientific knowledge are not an indication of the truth's scarcity. Contrarily, I contend that the process of bringing about paradigm shifts represents the most definitive indication of the scientific commitment to Truth. Distinct as emergent scientific paradigms may appear in comparison to their predecessors, nevertheless, in every case there remain essential "evolutionary" linkages between historic, existing and succeeding paradigms. Indeed, the epistemological relationship between distinct scientific paradigms is "evolutionary" in a similar (metaphorical) sense to the biological speciation process. Just as biological evolution propagates species that appear to have little or no connection to their predecessors (e.g., marine mammals v. their ancient terrestrial forbears), so too do scientific paradigms spawn new epistemologies that appear to lack a clear "genetic" linkage (e.g., geocentrism vs. the Big Bang). Though one may have to search to find it, a logical (and, in the case of the philosophy of science, a social) connection exists between evolutionarily-distinct constructs. Crucially, for the purposes of understanding the production of truth, it is essential to recognize the manner in which new paradigms, unique as they may be in many respects, generally "speciate" from within the context and tradition of established paradigms.
In spite of the apparent epistemological discontinuity between paradigms, I assert that the production of scientific truth takes place through a process of "redefining reality" (McGettigan 1999, 2002). In other words, truth is not contained within any particular paradigm (as indicated above, by their very nature, all paradigms are riddled with deficiencies), but rather truth guides and enables the process of transitioning from outmoded to "new and improved" paradigms. Also, truth-making never has been and never will be a linear process. Instead, the production of truth is associated with a process whereby individual "agents," upon encountering an over-abundance of environmentally disruptive phenomena (i.e., epistemological anomalies), often develop wildly creative, but nonetheless "adaptive" solutions to resolve the epistemological anomalies they encounter (for example, Einstein's legendary modifications to Newton's mechanical universe). As is the case with evolving organisms, emergent paradigms may appear to be constructs of an entirely new order. Nevertheless, outlandish as they may seem, emergent paradigms maintain demonstrable linkages with their ancestors (e.g., heliocentrism is "a very different animal," but still retains obvious affinities with geocentrism). The difference is that emergent paradigms have been modified through a process of redefining reality to transcend the shortcomings of established paradigms and, thereby, achieve a better "fit" with prevailing environmental conditions (i.e., paradigms evolve through an extensive reimagination process that is intended to reduce anomalies and, thereby, generate a more comprehensive grasp of the ever changing "known universe"). In the balance of this paper, I will demonstrate that such "paradigmatic evolution" is a process that, while spawning epistemological systems of unique and unusual design, is nevertheless propelled throughout by a consistent standard of truth.
Mathematicians have their axioms. However, outside the conceptually precise domain of mathematics, it is somewhat more difficult to locate truth. In many scientific endeavors, empirical observation serves as a means to generate and evaluate knowledge claims, e.g., zoologists observe lions and zebras on the African savanna and, by that means, establish (among other things) the truth of their predator-prey relationship. Although Mayo (1933) and Heisenberg (Cassidy, 1991) illustrated long ago that truth in observation has its limits, nevertheless, the relative truthfulness of various knowledge claims is often equated with the degree to which the phenomena at issue are observable. For example, dark matter remained a purely theoretical phenomenon until astronomers identified observable markers of its existence (Hupp, Roy, and Watzke, 2006). In the social sciences, however, observation has not been universally endorsed as a valid means of identifying truth.
The insistence upon observation as a basis for articulating truth claims--and as a foundation for "good science" (McGettigan, 2002)--is closely associated with a school of thought known as "positivism." Turner (1987) describes positivism as “the use of theory to interpret empirical events and, conversely, the reliance on observation to assess the plausibility of theory” (1987, pp. 156-157). Although positivism has been the subject of extensive criticism, it remains an influential, if not the dominant, paradigm in sociology.
Relying upon observation as a means to evaluate knowledge claims has a strong intuitive appeal. Human judgment is profoundly influenced by sensory observations: we tend to have faith in those things that we can see, smell, hear, taste, or touch, whereas phenomena that defy observation (e.g., the Abominable Snowman) tend to tax credulity. Nevertheless, power elite theorists (Mills, 1956; Domhoff, 2005) have long maintained that observable social phenomena are not reliable measures of truth. Indeed, power elite theorists assert that observable social phenomena are often deliberately distorted by power-brokers with the calculated intention of deceiving observers, e.g., Enron executives projected an illusion of prosperity that, until 2001, most onlookers accepted as "truthful." Therefore, according to this perspective, observable “truths" are often nothing more than cunning fabrications designed by the powerful to deflect attention from their nefarious undertakings. As a result, elite theorists argue that those who maintain faith in the observable world cannot avoid being over-credulous dupes of the powerful, e.g., Enron made a killing as long as investors remained sold on the company's dissimulations. To get beyond elite-generated distortions, Mills argued, observers need to employ a special form of insight--something he referred to as a "sociological imagination" (Mills, 1959). According to Mills, a sociological imagination is a conceptual framework through which observers can ascertain the impact of invisible social forces--including the handiwork of power elites--on the landscape of empirical social reality. Without a sociological imagination, Mills assured, individuals will remain lost in a "welter of confusion."
Further complicating matters, "radical" power theorists (including postmodernists, among others) have asserted that while elite power-brokers may distort observable reality, an even more insidious form of cultural power tends to subvert the cognition of observers. This is accomplished, Lukes (2005) argues, by creating a dislocation between an individual’s real and subjective interests--and induces what Marx identified as a “false consciousness.” Essentially, this perspective proposes that a subtle but extremely persuasive form of power cultivates “tastes” (Bourdieu, 1984) in the minds of individual social actors. Such tastes tend to predispose or "encourage" individuals to pursue objectives that seem to be born of individual desire, but that are, in fact, inculcated by prevailing socio-cultural influences.
For example, the cultural context of the early twenty-first century United States tends to inscribe its citizens with a taste for private homes, automobiles, computers, credit cards, cell phones, and fast food (McGettigan, 1999, 2002; Ritzer, 2002; Schlosser, 2001). Generally, we do not view our appetite for such cultural products as the work of social coercion. However, if we were to be situated in a markedly different cultural context, sixteenth century Inuit culture for instance, then our desires would incline toward a passion for warm fur-lined clothing, well-constructed igloos, dog sleds, kayaks, and raw seafood. In the context of pre-industrial Inuit culture, it would be preposterous to lust after Big Macs because the extant cultural system would exert neither the impetus to seek, nor include any of the essential means to fabricate such delicacies. Thus, the third face of power functions as a remarkably effective social glue because of the way that it impels individuals to apply themselves tenaciously to the pursuit of those things that extant cultural systems are designed to provide. Conveniently, these selfsame forces facilitate the reproduction of the cultural context within which individuals are embedded (Willis 1977, Burawoy, 1979): our hunger for automobiles effectively sustains the viability of numerous global industries that are bent on satisfying consumer desires, e.g., petroleum, steel, fast food, shipping, etc.
Consequently, as a result of the pervasive influences of radical power, many social theorists have argued that individuals are incapable of observing truth. That is, if every cognitive reference point has been manipulated by cultural power, then any “truths” an observer might identify must be either partly or wholly the product of manipulative social power. Foucault explains:
Ötruth isnít outside power, or lacking in power: contrary to a myth whose history and functions would repay further study, truth isnít the reward of free spirits, the child of protracted solitude, nor the privilege of those who have succeeded in liberating themselves. Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power (1980, p. 131).
Thus, Foucault maintains that in every circumstance truth is an instrument of power. From this perspective, truth is a mechanism that is employed to achieve the “positive” goals of a political regime: truth encourages those it influences to "do the right thing", i.e., conform to the will of established authority.
While I agree that, in reality, there is a dynamic, productive relationship between knowledge and power, nevertheless, I believe it is important to emphasize that knowledge and power are distinct phenomena. And given that knowledge and power are distinguishable, even though power effectively distorts most knowledge in reality, it is still conceivable to imagine knowledge that can be constructed independently of the influences of ideological power. If, indeed, there is no knowledge that is independent of power, if truth is wholly the captive and product of power, then truth in every case would have to be the creation of the arbitrary determination of power and it would be impossible for “intellectuals,” despite what Foucault suggests, to detach “the power of truth from the forms of hegemony, social, economic and cultural, within which it operates...” (Foucault 1980, p.133). Thus, I maintain that knowledge is not only conceptually distinguishable from power, but, as I will demonstrate, knowledge is also an important vehicle through which power is generated, exercised and, occasionally, undone.
It was for reasons similar to those expressed by Foucault that postmodernists asserted there was no longer any virtue in championing universal Truth. Postmodernists pointed out that all knowledge is constructed within bounded socio-cultural systems and, whether characterized as "truth" or not, no form of knowledge could ever be more universal than the social system in which it was created. While this is a markedly different contention than Kuhn’s, nevertheless, these points resonate with his characterization of paradigmatic deficiencies: paradigms aspire to compass the "the known universe" but invariably fail due to the contradictions implied in structuring human understanding by way of imposing rigid and, thus, limiting epistemological frames on a fluid and boundless universe. Postmodernists advance the additional criticism that, not only does knowledge tote the baggage of the social context in which it was generated, but it also imposes ideological coercion upon all those who are exposed to it (Lemert, 1991). Proceeding from those assumptions, postmodernists concluded that the modern, scientific "hegemony of truth" was nothing more than a duplicitous justification for Western imperialistic abuse (Seidman, 1991; Lemert, 2004).
As an antidote, postmodernists decided to jettison the notion of universal truth in favor of embracing individual-level truths. This diminution of truth standards remedies what postmodernists perceive as a severe shortcoming in modernist science: throughout the modern era disparate voices had been elided from the pantheon of “valid” knowledge due to the fact that modernist truth standards were (according to postmodernists) excessively coercive and exclusionary. Postmodernists rectified this problem by asserting that all knowledge has an equal claim to truth and validity.
While abandoning universal truth purports to serve a noble purpose, nevertheless, doing so also creates a number of drastic epistemological dilemmas (Sokal, 1996). The first of these is relativism: by abandoning truth standards one foregoes all non-relative means of evaluating knowledge. In other words, in a universe wherein there are no supra-individual truth standards, any knowledge claim by any individual (including luminaries such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and George W. Bush) must be treated as equally valid. Postmodernism establishes no basis upon which to develop and administer broader evaluations of truth (McGettigan, 2000). Ergo, in the absence of grandiose truth standards, one cannot avoid endorsing the machinations of numbskulls and tyrants.
The crucial flaw in the postmodern strategy has been its unequivocal rejection of universal truth; a strategy that is roughly akin to combating foes by lopping off one’s own head. Fortunately, the postmodernist disavowal of truth is the product of a remediable misunderstanding. Once again, postmodernists abjure universal truth (in agreement with Foucault) because of their contention that all knowledge is manipulated by power. However, this viewpoint presumes that power can only influence knowledge negatively: distorting and/or corrupting knowledge and deflecting it from an evocation of undistorted truth. While I agree that the effects of power always modify knowledge, I do not believe that power must always corrupt truth. My basis for this claim derives from a theoretical formulation which asserts that individuals are capable generating truth by "redefining reality" (McGettigan, 1999, 2002).
"Redefining reality" is a process through which individuals can challenge misleading or inadequate paradigms through a combination of astute observation and a creative capacity for ingenious, innovative cognition (i.e., "agency"). As such, via the process of redefining reality, individuals can challenge and negate some of the influences that radical power exercises over their consciousness; redefining reality is a means by which individuals can alter the existing landscape of social reality by creating “spaces” within which they may think and act with a degree of independence from individual, organizational, and cultural social constraints.
The notion of “redefinable reality” posits that there is a universe “out there” that exists independent of human cognition. As such, I argue that “universal Truth” does exist, but such Truth is not (nor will it ever be) contained within extant scientific paradigms. Rather, “The Truth” extends infinitely into the unlocked mysteries of the expanding universe. In other words, reality is what it is: an asteroid is an asteroid is an asteroid, etc… Truth is an intrinsic, inseparable feature of phenomena as they exist independently of human perception. Lies and distortions come into existence via humanity’s vast capacity for ignorance: humans view the illimitable universe through awed and flawed psyches. Although admirable in many ways, our grasp of infinite mysteries remains woefully incomplete. Nevertheless, the process of redefining reality permits admittedly limited human minds to make use of empirical anomalies to transcend the limitations of inadequate paradigms in pursuit of a grander vision of Truth.
The process of redefining reality, or overcoming socially-imposed distortions upon knowledge (i.e., including the various shortcomings of existing paradigms) often begins when agents make unanticipated observations, e.g., “Hey! I just looked through my new telescope and it appears as though there are moons orbiting Jupiter!” Individuals may follow up such observations by issuing a challenge to established paradigmatic restrictions, i.e., "I guess that means some astronomical objects orbit heavenly bodies other than earth." In the process of attempting to make sense of such anomalies, individuals tend to deconstruct (Derrida, 1978) the conceptual frameworks that limit their ability to comprehend mysterious phenomena, i.e., "based upon what I have observed, I no longer believe earth is the center of the universe." As individuals re-evaluate their beliefs with respect to their inability to comprehend anomalies, the features of their paradigms that do not hold up under scrutiny come under substantial erosive pressure. If individuals are persistent enough, they may reach a point at which the critical mass of their contemplations overloads the shackles of their former beliefs and, thus, they may experience a “moment of truth”, i.e., "Aha! Planets revolve around the sun, not the earth."
A “moment of truth” is an experience wherein individuals are transported from an inadequate version of reality to a more satisfactory paradigm. These experiences may be considered relatively truthful in that they are generated through a process that involves the intentional negation of ideological controls over an individual‘s definition of reality. This is not to say that the redefined paradigm at which one arrives after experiencing a moment of truth is, therefore, Truth. Far from that, in keeping with the assertions of radical power theorists (Foucault, 1977; Lukes, 2005), all established belief systems exert their own forms of ideological power on the construction of knowledge. Thus, to experience a moment of truth does not transport one to an ideal realm wherein Truth reigns unchallenged--as opposed to the assertions of Habermas (1970, 1972, 1981). Instead, I merely suggest that the process of redefining reality permits individual “agents” to experience moments of truth within the ideologically-coercive domain of social reality. With the help of such redefined insights, agents become better equipped to negotiate with the pervasive, consciousness-distorting influences of radical power sufficiently to transcend the limitations of established paradigms for the purposes of creating better (but never perfect) paradigmatic proximations of the empirical universe (McGettigan, 2002). Therefore, humans have at their disposal the necessary cognitive mechanism, i.e., moments of truth, through which to take gradual but confident steps toward a broader understanding of the infinite Truths that govern the universe--and, unless I am mistaken, that is and always has been the primary goal of "good science."
The fact that agency can be exist in a world of social coercion makes it possible to establish and defend a "socially-situated" definition of truth. The version of “evolutionary truth” that I advocate asserts that no single person will ever arrive at an ultimate representation of Truth. Instead, humans can access narrow, momentary glimpses of truth through the process of transitioning from outmoded to improved definitions of reality. Once again, as scientists (and private citizens) it is essential to embrace coherent truth standards in order to establish a foundation upon which to attack “bad” ideas and replace with them with “better” ideas. In denying the existence of, or requirements for, truth standards, one foregoes any rational basis upon which to rebuke quacks, e.g., tyrants who proclaim that “inferior” people should be exterminated, barstool physicists who profess to know more about relativity than Einstein, or sociologists who contend that all forms of knowledge are equally valid.
According to theoretical formulation upon which the redefinition of reality process is based, in every case it remains up to individual observers to evaluate the veracity of knowledge claims. For example, even the most widely accepted scientific paradigms are, and should be, subjected to intense criticism (Behe, 1996). An environment that invites criticism of even the most popular theories--whether or not we share dissenters’ viewpoints--is crucial to the process of progressively and legitimately redefining reality. In other words, dissent is an acid test through which to interrogate good ideas and obliterate bad ones. Once again, no theory produced by humankind either has, nor ever will capture “the Entire Truth.” Indeed, precisely because of that limitation, the notion of evolutionary truth is an essential means through which to emphasize that even relatively truthful ideas often can and should be supplanted by better ideas.
Indeed, given the foregoing discussion about the limitations of culture-bound knowledge systems, I propose is that eternally provisional, but increasingly proximate paradigms emerge from a negotiation process between:
1. Ingenious, redefining human minds
2. Observable (and, in particular, anomalous) empirical phenomena
3. Established paradigms
Thus, the process of redefining reality implies that “good scientists” can only obtain a competent understanding of the empirical universe by acting as "agents" from within the context of coercive social reality (McGettigan, 1999, 2001). Truth-seekers must directly confront the invisible influences of social power in order to effectively grasp the complexities of the simultaneously contradictory and complimentary relationship between agents and social environments--and, thereby, generate scientific paradigms of increasing veracity.
Evolutionary truth is certain to remain unappealing to those who dream of propagating a single, unifying scientific ideology. Nevertheless, evolutionary truth offers a meta-theoretical means through which to build bridges and generate real improvements in every field of scientific inquiry. That is, the notion of refined truth emphasizes that it is possible for advocates of various theoretical perspectives to compromise and collaborate toward the production of ever improving paradigms. For example, from my "evolutionary" perspective, I feel perfectly secure in stating that, despite their numerous theoretical differences, Karl Marx and Max Weber were both brilliant theorists who managed to capture exceedingly valuable insights about the social world they analyzed. Neither theorist was entirely correct nor, I believe, anyone should feel conflicted about drawing upon the strengths of each theory and ruthlessly attacking their weaknesses in an effort to progress toward the development of newer, better paradigms. Thus, I maintain that evolutionary truth makes it possible to draw constructively upon the strengths of the vast storehouse of existing scientific knowledge in order to evolve, newer and better definitions of empirical reality. No definition of truth can legitimately claim to offer more, nor should be equipped to accomplish less.
Of necessity, truth must remain an evolving target. As the boundaries of the known universe expand, the paradigms that extend scientific frontiers must keep pace. Humbling though it may be, the surest route to scientific progress is to assume that the existing state of knowledge is lamentable. Whether we like it or not, the grandest truths that we cling to today will eventually seem as quaint as the once firmly held conviction that earth was flat. Indeed, the mere suggestion that any scientific discipline may be nearing an "ultimate theory" (Greene, 1999) is exceedingly curious. No scientific discipline can brag of greater accomplishments than those achieved by physicists. Nevertheless, given that physicists currently acknowledge the universe is permeated by vast quantities of inscrutable "dark" substances (Overbye, 2006), I believe it is premature (to say the least) to assert that ultimate theories lie just around the corner. In fact, rather that being on the verge of an ultimate theory, I would assert that such fragmentary conceptualizations of dark matter and energy auger an impending paradigm shift of epic proportions. When such a paradigm shift inevitably takes place, those who have predicted "the end is near" will be wearing egg on their faces, however, everyone else will benefit from science having taken, yet again, one small (but tantalizing) step toward compassing the universe's far-flung mysteries.
Without doubt, the greatest threat to science is the presumption that any particular paradigm might somehow encapsulate the final, ultimate Truth. In every case where humans have claimed ownership of final truths, agency has been forced to cower in the face of bloody-minded ideology (Barnett, 2006; Bergin, 2006). If scientists are ever unwary enough to presume that their intellectual journey has arrived at its final destination, then in that very moment science, the quest for Truth and intellectual integrity itself will suffer a painful, premature and unnecessary extinction.
The life of science is necessarily dependent upon an enduring commitment to intellectual evolution. That being the case, scientists can only preserve their enterprise by maintaining a steadfast commitment to human agency. In other words, scientists must always maintain a stronger commitment to their own doubts than any of the “certainties” touted by prevailing paradigms; scientists must stubbornly seek anomalies that, ultimately, are certain to undermine the paradigmatic beliefs upon which cherished truths and distinguished careers have been founded. This is essential not purely for the purposes of tearing down scientific aspirations--as postmodernists have been wont to do. Rather, the goal of accumulating anomalies is to force confrontations between established paradigms and the Truths that transcend those paradigms. Science is at its best when it remains singularly committed to the goal of evolving paradigms and, in so doing, focusing scientists’ unwavering aspirations on the Truths that extend perpetually beyond their wildest imaginations.
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