Who are scientists? What kind of people are they? What capacities and virtues are thought to stand behind their considerable authority? The Scientific Life is historian Steven Shapin's story about who scientists are, who we think they are, and why our sensibilities about such things matter. From the early twentieth-century origins of corporate research laboratories to the high-flying scientific entrepreneurship of the present. Shapin argues that the radical uncertainties of much contemporary science have made personal virtues more central to its practice than ever before, and he also reveals how radically novel aspects of late modern science have unexpectedly deep historical roots. His elegantly conceived history of the scientific career and character ultimately encourages us to reconsider the very nature of the technical and moral worlds in which we now live.
"Shapin has produced a work of exceptional originality, power and significance. He has also given readers much to chew over in regard to contemporary developments and perennial issues. . . . Shapin tells this story exceediongly well, framing its episodes richly and developing them through vivid depictions of representative figures, texts, incidents and anecdotes."
Barbara Herrnstein Smith