Authors: Lorraine Daston & Peter Galison
Objectivity has a history, and it is full of surprises. In Objectivity, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison chart the emergence of objectivity in the mid 19th century sciences — and show how the concept differs from alternatives, truth-to-nature and trained judgment. This is a story of lofty epistemic ideals fused with workaday practices in the making of scientific images.
From the 18th through the early 21st centuries, the images that reveal the deepest commitments of the empirical sciences — from anatomy to crystallography — are those featured in scientific atlases: The compendia that teach practitioners of a discipline what is worth looking at and how to look at it. Atlas images define the working objects of the sciences of the eye: snowflakes, galaxies, skeletons, even elementary particles.
Whether an atlas maker idealizes an image to capture the essentials in the name of truth-to-nature or refuses to erase even the most incidental detail in the name of objectivity or highlights patterns in the name of trained judgment is a decision enforced by an ethos as well as by an epistemology, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.