As this edited collection makes clear, inquiry is a social system and knowledge is socially constructed. To understand the nature of inquiry in a particular discourse community, one must look at its social dimensions, that is, the qualities of personal craftsmanship and community affiliation inherent in the work of the writers/scholars. And, of course, each discourse community maintains its own standards and norms, determines what subject matter is appropriate for investigation and explanation, how that subject matter is examined, what constitutes evidence, and, in discourse, what claims are to be regarded as valid. McInnis and his contributors explore how a consensus was arrived at in various Western disciplines and how that consensus has stood up to challenges through time.
They first examine the concepts of consensus/dissensus and the politics of scholarship in a variety disciplines, concentrating on economic history, health and medicine. They next look at contrasting conceptual frameworks for synthesizing discourse within disciplines and the challenges established in the world of postmodernist scholarship. Reference works are then explored as tools for discourse synthesis and consensus, and the volume concludes with a look at micro and macro considerations in discourse synthesis. A provocative work for scholars and researchers involved in the philosophy and history of knowledge and science; advanced students in a variety of disciplines will find the work invaluable for better understanding the roots, rules, and approaches of their specialized fields.