The `Glasgow School' of Paton, Findlay and Cathcart: conservative thought in chemical physiology, nutrition and public health

Smith, D. and Nicolson, M. (1989) The `Glasgow School' of Paton, Findlay and Cathcart: conservative thought in chemical physiology, nutrition and public health. Social Studies of Science, 19(2), pp. 195-238. (doi:10.1177/030631289019002001) (PMID:11622464)

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In the early decades of the twentieth century, the `Glasgow School' of D. N. Paton, L. Findlay and E. P. Cathcart developed a distinctive approach to the scientific study of nutrition and to the social application of scientific knowledge. They adhered to the practice of chemical physiology, which they defended against the encroachment of a reductionist, modernizing biochemistry. In the face of rival claims from the emergent professional biomedical scientists, Paton, Findlay and Cathcart upheld a more traditional view of medical education and the relationship between the doctor and the laboratory scientist. They also lent their medical and scientific authority to the then Government's policy of minimal intervention in the condition of the poor, employing arguments hostile to rational, scientistic reform. Using Karl Mannheim's concept of `styles of thought', the paper characterizes the rhetoric of the Glasgow School as being `conservative' in style. It is suggested that Paton, Findlay and Cathcart used conservative thought as a useful tactic in the defence of a wide variety of social interests. This study of the Glasgow School is intended as a contribution to the history of physiology, biochemistry and nutrition, to the understanding of the interactions between the laboratory and the clinic, and to the literature on styles of thought.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Nicolson, Professor Malcolm
Authors: Smith, D., and Nicolson, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Journal Name:Social Studies of Science
ISSN (Online):1460-3659

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