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Science might be found to have many different results. Which of them is its "end"? Helen Longino , is another contributor to the social studies of science who emphasizes the normative. The social, says Longino, does not contaminate the normative, or justificatory, dimension of science. To the contrary, she views justificatory reasoning as part of a social practice — a practice of challenge and response chap.

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In what sense is social epistemology "social"? Different writers have different conceptions of the social, and this inevitably leads to different conceptions of social epistemology. In the Marxian tradition and in early forms of the sociology of knowledge, "social factors" referred primarily to various types of "interests": class interests, political interests, or anything else pertaining to the "existential" world of power and politics.

Under this conception of the social, it is natural to see social factors as antithetical to "reason". If science is infiltrated by social factors, in this sense, how can it be a successful instrument for getting at truth? Thinking of the relationship between the rational and the social as one of opposition, it is not surprising to find Larry Laudan proposing an "arationality principle": "[T]he sociology of knowledge may step in to explain beliefs if and only if those beliefs cannot be explained in terms of their rational merits" Laudan Can the opposition between the rational and the social be eliminated, or at least relaxed?

A first possible move is to allow "interests" to include the private or professional interests of scientists. It seems undeniable that scientists are at least partly driven by a desire for "credit" from their peers Hull But won't private and professional interests deflect scientists from reason and truth as much as class or political interests? Several writers argue to the contrary.

There is no necessary conflict between professional interest and successful pursuit of truth. Kitcher argues that the optimal division of labor in scientific research may be attained not by "pure", altruistic scientists but by scientists with "grubby" and epistemically "sullied" motives. Similarly, Goldman and Shaked show that, given certain assumptions about credit-giving practices and experimental choices, there will be little difference between choices of truth-motivated scientists and choices of credit-motivated scientists. Hence, there will be little difference in expected success of moving the community toward truth.

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Credit-driven interests need not be inimical to truth-promotion. A further proposal is to expand the "social" beyond politics and interests altogether. The most inclusive sense of the social is simply any relationship among two or more individuals. There is no reason why social epistemology cannot be social in this broad sense. Any interaction among individuals affecting the credal states of some of them might be considered a social-epistemic relationship.

So understood, a wide range of communicative interactions would be fit subjects for social epistemology. For example, many knowledge-seeking enterprises are collaborative in nature, including scientific enterprises involving research teams.


An interesting task for social epistemology is to identify the types of collaboration that would be optimal in terms of some epistemically relevant measure Thagard Can the "social" be fully captured by inter-individual relationships? Some theorists would argue in the negative, pointing specifically to collective entities such as corporations, committees, juries, and teams.

What is epistemology? Introduction to the word and the concept

We often attribute mental or mental-like states, including beliefs, to such collective entities Gilbert , ; Bratman ; Tuomela ; Searle We might say, for example, that a jury was convinced that the defendant intended such-and-such, or that the jury doubted that a certain alleged conversation really took place. Collective entities are obviously "social" in an important way; and if it is granted that such entities are bearers of beliefs and other doxastic states, shouldn't these collective states be an important target for social epistemology?

Precisely this is suggested by Lynn Hankinson Nelson , who goes even further in proposing that the only real knowers are communities. Should social epistemology pursue its agenda by focusing, in whole or in part, on group knowledge? Obviously, this depends on whether groups or collectivities are legitimate bearers of epistemic states like knowledge or justified belief.

Social Epistemology

Most philosophers who address this issue agree that a group can be described as believing in some proposition p in the minimal sense that all or most members of the group believe p. But if this is the only legitimate sense in which groups can be said to believe something, many "socializing" philosophers will be disappointed. They want to hold the stronger view that groups or collectivities can be the subjects of beliefs and other attitudes that diverge from the attitudes of their members. Is it legitimate to speak of group beliefs in this more challenging, non-summative conception? Philip Pettit defends the view that groups are subjects of propositional attitudes in the non-summative sense.

One key to his position is the idea, popular among many philosophers of mind, that a system is properly viewed as an intentional subject just in case it displays a certain kind of rational unity. It must preserve intentional attitudes over time and it must form, unform, and act on those attitudes — at least under favorable conditions — so as to maintain a pattern of rational unity. Pettit then argues that certain types of groups, which he calls "social integrates," display exactly this kind of rational unity.

Although these groups are not distinct from their individual members in the sense of being capable of existing in their absence, they are distinct from their members in the sense of being centers for the formation of attitudes that can be quite discontinuous from those of their members According to Pettit, collective judgments and intentions do not constitute an ontologically emergent realm, because these judgments and intentions may always supervene on the attitudes and relations among their members.

Still, the judgments and intentions can diverge from those of their several members. Even if the existence of non-summative group beliefs is granted, this doesn't concede everything a group-oriented social epistemologist might want or need. As indicated earlier, group-oriented social epistemologists should also want to hold that positive epistemic properties, like knowledge or justifiedness, are properly ascribed to groups, and this conclusion hasn't yet been fully defended. One basis for rejecting this conclusion is that non-summative groups choose their beliefs voluntarily, and doxastic voluntarism is incompatible with positive epistemic properties like knowledge or justifiedness.

The chief sticking-point here is that groups may adopt views for non-epistemic reasons, not because they aim at truth. Brad Wray argues that groups, unlike individual agents, always choose to believe based on their goals. Similarly, Christopher McMahon points out that groups undertake to defend as true positions they adopt for purely instrumental reasons. Notoriously, the tobacco companies took the position that smoking does not cause cancer, although it is questionable whether any tobacco executives actually believed this. If we assume with many authors that the goal of truth is the hallmark of the epistemic, rampant doxastic voluntarism on the part of groups would be a stumbling-block for the attainment of positive epistemic properties.

However, as Kay Mathiesen argues, it seems unlikely that all group beliefs are deliberately chosen. Moreover, what precludes the possibility that some group beliefs are chosen with the aim of truth, or accuracy? So positive epistemic status for collective beliefs still has legs to stand on, and it is open to social epistemologists to select collective belief as the keystone of their conception of what is distinctively social in social epistemology see also Schmitt b.

Suppose, then, that the door is left open to employ group belief as the keystone of social epistemology. Which notion of group belief should be chosen? There is more than one legitimate notion of group belief.

Now, an entity that lacked a certain piece of knowledge cannot be the same entity that possessed the very same knowledge at the same time. What Berger meant, clearly, is that knowledge was possessed in a distributed fashion by the collection of agents in the field e. In this distributed way, the F.

A Social Epistemology of Research Groups - denaredeling.tk

It must be a non-distributive conception; but there are different non-distributive candidates here. Pettit, as we have seen, has developed the notion of a "social integrate," or an "integrated collectivity. As Pettit develops the notion of rational collective judgment, it involves an important assumption of equality of weight among group members. This assumption seems to be embedded in his notion of an integrated collectivity. This isn't an apt characterization, however, of all collective epistemic subjects worthy of social epistemology's attention.

Rather, like many other organizations, it is what might be called a hierarchical collectivity. Decision-making power is vested in a single individual or directorship; to a first approximation, whatever this individual or directorship decides is the decision of the organization.

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And what this individual or directorship knows or doesn't know is naturally construed as what is known or isn't known by the organization. Where the F.

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Qua hierarchical collectivity, the F. It seems clear that if social epistemology is to invoke group belief and group knowledge, it should be prepared to deal with many types of groups or collectivities and many conceptions of group belief and knowledge. One size will not fit all.