Extensionalism and intensionalism in the realist-SSK 'debate'
Keywords:strong programme, sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK), meaning finitism, extensionalism, intensionalism, transcendental realism
The 'strong programme' in the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) is based upon finitism and extensionalism. This article examines a critique of these bases. It is argued that David Tyfield's (2008; 2009) realist critique and his alternative intensionalist account of meaning face problems at least as serious as those he identifies in the strong programme’s finitism. This is not to say that the strong programme is problem-free: it fails to give sufficient acknowledgement to non-conventional constraints on meaning formation and change. It is also suggested that, as they are currently conceived, realism's intensionalism and the strong programme's extensionalism are irreconcilably incompatible at such a basic level that the 'debate' between them reduces to an exchange of 'assurances'.