This article examines an often neglected topic in the history of science, namely clinical observation, specifically the objectivity and knowledge production associated with therapeutic trials. It will describe an eighteenth and nineteenth century pharmacological concept of objectivity and exemplify that concept using late nineteenth century European cocaine research. As conceived within clinical drug research, this concept of objectivity does not correspond with those described by Daston and Galison in their seminal book Objectivity (2007). I will explore the implications of this “new” concept of objectivity—as compared to the “old” ones postulated by Daston and Galison—for their core propositions.

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