2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

AIDS, the Diminishing Power of the Taiwan Provincial Government, and the Hepatitis B Vaccine: The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge in Taiwan

Chung-hsi Lin

Department of Humanities and Science, National Yunlin Institute of Technology

Examining the controversy regarding the safety issues of the hepatitis B vaccines, this paper discusses how policy considerations, economic activities, and political interests shaped and reshaped the knowledge regarding the hepatitis B vaccines in Taiwan during the early 1990s. Quite contrary to the current image of science as an objective, rational, and truth-researching activity, I argue that both political activities and economic considerations are important dimensions of scientific practice. If we open the blackbox of scientific knowledge and investigate its formation process, we soon find that scientists are not the sole producers of scientific knowledge; that is, various participants besides scientists may enter scientific practice by bringing in a range of ethical, economic, cultural, political, and technical issues and create a controversy. Since various participants can simultaneously enlist contradictory scientific knowledge in their argument against each other, the privilege of scientific knowledge decreases; that is, scientific knowledge is not the sole arbitrator of a scientific controversy. When political negotiations, economic interests, and scientific arguments operate simultaneously within this controversy, they create new scientific knowledge regarding the hepatitis B vaccines.


Key Words: Scientific Knowledge, Social Construction, Hepatitis B Vaccine, History of Science, Taiwan