social epistemology n.
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Social Epistemology - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

clark-sanders
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Social Epistemology

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  1. Social Epistemology

  2. The Cognitive Robinson Crusoe

  3. The Individualistic Epistemology • Assumptions and problems of „individualistic” („traditional”) epistemology: • Epistemic agents are individual human beings. • What are the desidered conginitve states (e.g. knowledge) and methods leading to those states (e.g. justification) ? • The standards of knowledge and rationality are universal and objective. • Knowledge represents the world / aims at truth (correspondence). • What can an isolated subjectknow – should believe -- entirelyon her own when her resources are her senses and the contents of hermind? • In principle, an individual can know everything that can be known by a community, practically, of course, she cannot.

  4. Social Epistemology • The social and interpersonal aspects of knowledge

  5. From Individualistic to Social Epistemology • Forms of changes: • Adding assumptions (resources) and problems • Replacing assumptions and problems

  6. Question: Do-It-Yourself Social Epistemology • How to make social from individual epistemology? • What sort of modifications of the individualistic epistemology are necessary? What kind of phenomena should be taken into consideration? And WHY?

  7. Testimony • Peer agreement and disagreement • Argumentation • Social norms of knowledge and rationality • Etc..

  8. Example: Testimony, Individualistic Accounts • Under what conditions can a testimony be relied on? Different answers: • A cognitive agent can rely on it if she has further non-testimonial physical evidence about the reliability of the speaker. (the agent’s evidence, expanded content -- individualistic epistemology) • Variation: By default, she can accept them unless she has contrary evidence (defeater). (the agent’s evidence, expanded content -- individualistic epistemology)

  9. Example: Testimony, Social Accounts • Under what conditions can a testimony be relied on? Different answers: • The cognitive agent, s can accept what t says if t knows what she says. That is if s knows by testimony that p, then someone else should know p first. (transindividual evidence, society of knowers – social epistemology) • The cognitive agent can accept a testimony if she is convinced in a rational debate that it is acceptable. (transindividual method of justification – social epistemology) New problems: what sort of soc. methods are admissible? • The cog agent can accept a testimony if she has social evidence (social indicator-properties) about the speaker’s credibility. E.g. I accept that helicobacter causes stomach ulcer, because I heard it from distinguished scientists. (social evidence – social epistemology) New problems: what sort of indicators are reliable? What social procedures can screen credibility? etc..

  10. One More Radical Step: the Collective Agent • It is a community that generates and acquires knowledge not individuals. • Members of a community share beliefs, cognitive methods and practices. • They rely on each other's testimony. • Only community can maintain norms. • Two cognitive agents: community (most fundamental), individuals. • What are the epistemic properties, methods and practices of collective epistemic agents?

  11. Example • A radical example of social epistemology is the sociology of knowledge. („the strong program” of Bloor 1976)

  12. Arguments for the Sociological Approach Historicalevidence: • History of science and ideasshowshowsociologicalandpsychologicalcontingenciesactually played a roleinwhatpeoplecometobeleive. Theoreticalargumentsfortheneed of social (psychological) factors: • Underdetermination (Duhem, Quine): Logicallyincompatibletheoriesmay fit allpossibleevidence. Theoriesareunderdetermiendbyevidence: Howtobridgetheevidentialgap? Whyonetheory is preferred over another? • Epistmologicalholism (Duhem, Quine): Wholetheories (togetherwithbackgroundassumptions) aretheunits of test (confirmationorfalsification). Whatclaimstorevise/tosave? • Semanticholism (Quine): Languageas a whole has meaninig, meaningscannot be attachedtowordsseparetelly. Theory-ladenness of observation: Howtochooseevidence?

  13. The Strong Program • „…knowledge for the sciologist is whatever men take to be knowledge… beliefs which are taken for granted, institutionlized, or invested with authority…” • Great variety of ideas – „…what are the causes of this variation, how and why does it change?” • To EXPLAIN the production, transmission, change, structure and organization of knowledge within a particular group of people E.g.: • What is believed? • Who believes it and who does not? • Why do they believe it? What are their sources, what are the sources of the creditbility? • How are these beliefs defended against doubt? • Etc.

  14. Methodology: Causal Explanation • Social and psychological causes bringing about beleifs, to be found in: • Process of socialization, transmittion of culture • Goals and interests of the members of the group • Ways of generating consensus • Rethorical and negotiation processes • Conventions • Etc. • Impartial explanation: both truth and falsity require explanation (not merely a sociology of error) • Symmetrical explanation: the same typ of cause for truth and fasity (not merely a sociology of error) • Reflexivity: the same exaplains the sociology of knowledge itself.

  15. Methodology: Practice • Sociology, social psychology, social anthropology:

  16. Radical Socialitzation of Epistemology Individualistic Epistemology Sociology of Knowledge Collective epistemic agent What is taken to be knowledge, how is it produced and maintained No universalstandards of rationality Knowledge „represents” consensus Naturalized inquire into knowledge, the science of knowledge • Epistemic agents are individual human beings. • What are the desidered conginitve states (e.g. knowledge) and methods leading to those states (e.g. justification) ? • The standards of knowledge and rationality are universal and objective. • Knowledge represents the world/aims at truth (correpondence).