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INTRODUCTION: THE BIRTH AND DEATH OF MECHANICAL OBJECTIVITY Obj ecti vity is a fighting word. It is lambasted, cherished, hunted, defended; it is realism on Monday, certainty on Wednesday, intersubjectivity on Friday, and truth on Sunday. C laims and coun tercla ims proliferate: th e natural sciences are objective; the socia l sciences want to be: archi tecture was in the 1920s. Postmodernism corrodes it , and metaphysics may or may not have capt ured its essence. Amid the cacophony of th ese discussions, the term loses its sense, and becomes little more than a contested token in battles from the Methodenstreit to the C ulture Wars. In the midst of such polemics, a reader can be forgiven für having no conception of what might be meant by claims that objectivity still resides in quantum measurement, democratic polit ics, and sta tist ical certainty.