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On Commodification and the Progress of Knowledge in Society: A Defence

Fuller, Steve (2013) On Commodification and the Progress of Knowledge in Society: A Defence. Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science, 7 (1). pp. 12-20. ISSN 1913-0465

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Abstract

In this paper I make more explicit a position that I have being advocating for more than two decades (gathered together in Fuller 2002, Fuller 2010), though its full force does not seem to have been felt. I write in defence of the *commodification* rather than the simple *commercialisation* of knowledge. The two italicised terms are often spoken about in the same breath—and, to be sure, they are related to each other. But they are not the same. Commercialisation refers to the subjection of social life to the price mechanism, something that Adam Smith believed happened spontaneously, if it was not impeded by churches and states. And while Smith’s celebration of commercial culture makes him the philosophical father of capitalism, he would probably not approve of capitalism’s long-term tendency to turn aggregated versions of these spontaneous exchanges into objects that are themselves subject to exchange relations, which is commodification. Nevertheless, it is precisely in this sense of ‘commodification’ that I defend the university as a producer of knowledge as a public good, both in terms of teaching and research. I place the shi from commercialisation to commodification in a larger historical context first clearly identified by Ernst Cassirer – namely, a shi in metaphysical consciousness that accompanied the treatment of substances as the bearers of functions, which is associated with the introduction of algebra as a unifying principle of mathematical reasoning in the early modern era, initially through Descartes, which then became the basis of the modern physical world-view.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Fuller, Steve
Keywords: Scientific Realism; Epistemic Issues; Epistemology of Science
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Jordan Miller
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2021 04:48
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2021 04:48
Item ID: 17854
Journal or Publication Title: Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: The University of Toronto
Official URL: https://spontaneousgenerations.library.utoronto.ca...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.4245/sponge.v7i1.20075
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 25 November 2013
Page Range: pp. 12-20
Volume: 7
Number: 1
ISSN: 1913-0465
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17854

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