Constructing a Useful Theory of Knowledge

30 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2009

See all articles by Kristopher A. Nelson

Kristopher A. Nelson

University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Students

Date Written: December 8, 2009


Studying law provided me a useful set of materials to think about. To make use of this hard-won experience, throughout this paper I am going to connect Science Studies to the legal world I so recently emerged from.

My point is not to say that any of these theoretical positions or approaches are the correct ones, but rather to explore the utility of forcing them to serve different ends. This is emblematic of how I approach theories: Not as the end of the inquiry, but rather as tools that can be used on many different kinds of materials.

Through unanticipated uses, both the tool and the material can be (to mix metaphors) illuminated in unique and interesting ways. Theory is not about finding final explanations, but rather about opening up new lines of inquiry and suggesting different approaches to problems. Theory must be applied to be useful, and usefulness is a theme of this paper.

Keywords: law, history, science, science studies, history of science, theory

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Kristopher A., Constructing a Useful Theory of Knowledge (December 8, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Kristopher A. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Students ( email )

San Diego, CA
United States


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