STS and its Challenging Obligations: Pablo Schyfter Talks with Donald MacKenzie

  • Pablo Schyfter The University of Edinburgh
Keywords: interview, Donald MacKenzie, obligations, reflexivity, activism


In a wide-ranging interview, Donald MacKenzie and Pablo Schyfter discuss the former’s entry into science and technology studies (STS), the trajectory of the field since then, and his perspectives on its character today. MacKenzie recalls his discovery of STS through political activism, and his subsequent experiences at the young Edinburgh Science Studies Unit. He reflects on the field’s development and defining moments of transition, divergence and accomplishment. In reflecting on the field’s abilities, MacKenzie also considers STS’s potential for activism and intervention, and the challenges that accompany attempts to influence those things that it studies. Most importantly, he discusses the moral obligations and responsibilities that accompany engagement with controversial topics, like his own work studying nuclear weaponry and financial markets. In his reflection piece, Schyfter focuses on the notion of obligations, and expands MacKenzie’s views to discuss methodological, epistemic and critical duties. Schyfter suggests that ultimately STS is obliged to pursue complication and enable useful discomfort.

Author Biography

Pablo Schyfter, The University of Edinburgh
Lecturer, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, The University of Edinburgh
12 Jul 2018