Collins at a STS workshop in 2010
13 June 1943|
|Known for||Bath School, Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK)|
Harry Collins (born 13 June 1943) is a British sociologist of science at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Wales. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. His best known book is The Golem: What Everyone Should Know About Science (1993).
In Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice, Collins outlines a general theory of sociology of science. Drawing from the concepts of "Language Game" and "Forms of Life", derived from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, he seeks an explanation for how scientists follow rules and patterns when performing experiments and scientific practice. Collins' perspective is usually called a relativist position, although this is a strong oversimplification.
Collins has written for over 30 years on the sociology of gravitational wave physics. His publications in this area include: "The Seven Sexes: Study in Sociology of a Phenomenon, or Replication of Experiments in Physics" "Son of Seven Sexes: The Social Destruction of a Physical Phenomenon". He has traced the search for gravitational waves, and has shown how scientific data can be subject to interpretative flexibility, and how social or 'non-scientific' means can be sometimes used to close scientific controversies.
In an article in Science as Practice and Culture, Collins and his co-writer Steven Yearley argue that the Actor-network theory (ANT) approach is a step backwards towards the positivist and realist positions held by early theory of science.
More recently, Collins along with Dr Robert Evans, also of Cardiff University, has published works on what they term the "Third Wave of Science Studies" and, in particular, the idea of interactional expertise. This aims to address questions of legitimacy and extension and public involvement in scientific decision-making. They continue to research and publish on this topic.
- with Trevor Pinch, The Golem: What Everyone Should Know about Science, Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-521-35601-6
- Changing Order. Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice, The University of Chicago Press, 1985.
- with Steven Yearley, "Epistemological Chicken", in Andrew Pickering (ed.) Science as Practice and Culture, University of Chicago Press, 1992.
- Artificial Experts: Social Knowledge and Intelligent Machines, Cambridge, Mass: MIT press, 1990. Explains the nature and limits of intelligent machines, especially expert systems.
- with Martin Kusch, The Shape of Actions: What Humans and Machines Can Do, MIT Press, 1998.
- Gravity's Shadow: the search for gravitational waves, University of Chicago Press, 2004.
- with Trevor Pinch, Dr Golem: How to think about medicine, University of Chicago Press, 2005.
- with Robert Evans, Rethinking Expertise, University of Chicago Press, 2007.
- Tacit and Explicit Knowledge, University of Chicago Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-226-11380-7
- Gravity's Ghost: Scientific Discovery in the Twenty-first Century, University of Chicago Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-226-11356-2
- Are we all scientific experts now? Polity Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0745682044
- Web page at University of Cardiff
- The Expertise Network
- Harry Collins's Gravitational Wave Project
- H. M. Collins at Library of Congress Authorities — with 16 catalogue records