The Ideals of Joseph Ben-David: The Scientist’s Role and Centers of Learning Revisited

Book Description by Transaction Publishers

Joseph Ben-David died twenty-five years ago, in January 1986. An eminent sociologist of science, and a co-founder of this sub-discipline, he was only sixty-five years old. Few social scientists are remembered after they die and can no longer parlay their influence into the goods of this world for colleagues and acquaintances. This was not Ben-David’s fate. His work continues to be taught and referred to by scholars spread far and wide (in terms of both countries and disciplines). His students never forgot him, his books were republished, and his essays appeared in new collections.

Ben-David’s legacy includes ideas and ideals. Its central tenet is the autonomy of science, its right—and duty—to be value-free. Scholarship oriented to any goal other than the accumulation of objective knowledge about empirical reality, for him, was science no longer and did not have its authority. In this light, the life of scholarship was one of moral dedication, with nothing less than the fate of liberal democratic society depending on it. And for science to thrive, the university, its home, had to be the embodiment of the cardinal virtue of this society: the virtue of civility.

In the spirit of Ben-David, believing that scholarly debate advances common good, and rational discourse wins whichever way arguments in it are settled, this festschrift debates such core issues as the nature of science, its changing definition and position in Western society, the forms of organization optimal for scientific creativity, and the ability of the research university to foster scientific growth, while also performing its educational role.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements


 1.  Science in a Small Country Joseph Ben-David

2.  Astrology and Science: A Renaissance Problem Brendan Dooley

3.  Social Framework of Early Theoretical Science Dmitri Panchenko

4.  Competition and Quality Orientation in the American, English, and German University Systems Claudius Gellert

5.  Organizational Behavior and Strategic Change of Public Research Institutions in Turbulent Scenarios Mario Coccia

6.  Centers of Learning Reconsidered in the Japanese Context Chikako Takeishi

7.  The Autonomy of Science after Modernity Yaron Ezrahi

8.  The Crucible of Human and Social Sciences: Nondisciplinary Approaches to Human Subjects and the Role of the Intellectual in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Franc Nathalie Richard

9.  American Universities and the Stagnation of Knowledge Liah Greenfeld

10.  The Sustainability Movement in the American University Peter Wood                             

11.  The University and Public Education Michael Ben-Chaim

12.  In Lieu of the Epilogue: Joseph Ben-David in Photographs Miriam Ben-David



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