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Steven Shapin

Steven Shapin (born 1943, New York) is a historian and sociologist of science. He is the Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. Before that, he was a professor of sociology at University of California, San Diego, and at the Science Studies Unit, Edinburgh University.

He has written broadly on the history and sociology of science, and is known as a key contributor to the sociology of scientific knowledge. He is probably best known for his influential 1985 book with Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life, for which they received the prestigious Erasmus Prize in 2005. His 1996 book, The Scientific Revolution, has been translated into 14 languages.

His other honors include the J.D. Bernal Prize and the Ludwik Fleck Prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science, the Robert K. Merton Prize of the American Sociological Association, the Herbert Dingle Prize of the British Society for the History of Science, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and The New Yorker.


  • With Barry Barnes (ed.), Natural order : historical studies of scientific culture, Beverly Hills, Calif. : Sage Publications, 1979.
  • With Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the air-pump : Hobbes, Boyle, and the experimental life ; including a translation of Thomas Hobbes, Dialogus physicus de natura aeris by Simon Schaffer, Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1985 ; 1989.
  • A social history of truth : civility and science in seventeenth-century England, Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1994.
  • The scientific revolution, Chicago, IL : University of Chicago Press, 1996.
  • With Christoher Lawrence (ed.), Science incarnate : historical embodiments of natural knowledge, Chicago, Ill. : The University of Chicago Press, 1998.
  • The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation, Chicago, Ill. : The University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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