In Social Empiricism, Miriam Solomon proposes a via media between traditional philosophical realism and social construction of scientific knowledge, but ignores a large body of historical literature that has attempted to plough just that path. She also proposes a standard for normatively appropriate consensus that, arguably, no theory in the history of science has ever achieved, including her own ideal type—plate tectonics. And while valorizing dissent, she fails to consider how dissent has been used in recent decades as a political tool to challenge scientific evidence on diverse issues, including the link between tobacco and cancer and the reality of anthropogenic global warming.

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Author notes

Naomi Oreskes, Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, studies the historical development of scientific knowledge, methods, and practices in the earth and environmental sciences. Her 2004 Science essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” led to Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle, and has been widely cited, including in the academy-award winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Her recent testimony to the United States Senate on the history of climate science may be accessed at