Author Information: Rebecca Kukla, Georgetown University, rk75@georgetown.edu

Kukla, Rebecca. “Commentary on Karyn Freedman, ‘Testimony and Risk: The Dependence Account’” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 46-52.

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 Bars_Black_Yellow Image credit: Mike Kniec, via flickr

In “Testimony and Epistemic Risk: The Dependence Account,” Karyn Freedman argues that in the case of testimonial knowledge, “Justification is an interest-relative relation” (4). Specifically, the more ‘epistemic risk’ an agent takes on in believing a report that p, the more evidence she needs in order for the belief to be justified, where her epistemic risk depends on how much it matters, given her interests, values, and needs, if she is wrong. The less an agent has at stake in something being true, the lower the evidence bar for justification. Thus “Justification depends on evidence and how much evidence is needed, in each case, depends on the interests of the hearer” (14). Indeed, Freedman argues that all beliefs work this way, whether or not they are testimonially derived; testimonial evidence just offers more opportunities for epistemic risk than usual. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Raphael Sassower, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, rsassowe@uccs.edu

Sassower, Raphael. “Appealing to Academics to Become Public Intellectuals: A Reply to Justin Cruickshank and Ioana Cerasella Chis.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 42-45.

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microphoneImage credit: Mark_K_, via flickr

As we discussed in the last couple of exchanges, the concept and reality of neoliberalism of the past few decades aren’t limited to the marketplace or the political framing that engulfs and supports it. They are just as much a powerful rhetorical tool sharp enough to cut through centuries of debates over the moral foundation (or lack thereof) of public policies, including education (which was so eloquently covered by Cruickshank and Chis). If neoliberal ideology endorses the monetization of all decision making processes, and if it does so in the name of efficiency and value neutrality, we ought to step in. The question, of course, is who the “we” are. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Alberto Luyando, Virginia Tech, luyando@vt.edu

Luyando, Alberto. “Event Review: Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 39-41.

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Color_Digital_Sky Image credit: Trey Ratcliff, via flickr

On October 2nd, the National Academies in Washington, DC hosted the event Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future? Bringing together speakers from NASA, DARPA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Washington Post, the SyFy Channel, and a cadre of accomplished science fiction writers to discuss how to create a future we most desire. The initial impetus for the event was sparked in 2011 during an exchange between sci-fi writer, Neal Stephenson, and Arizona State University (ASU) president, Michael Crow. Stephenson argued that the United States may still be operating at the frontier of science and technology, yet we are losing our collective ability to push the envelope further, above all, we are unwilling to do the big things Americans were known for. Crow responded that perhaps, sci-fi writers are partially to blame because they have failed to provide a future vision beyond a dystopian view of the world. This exchange drove the creation of the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination and Project Hieroglyph; two initiatives to create, in my view, a new techno-optimism reminiscent of the Golden Age of science-fiction. The event featured seven panels with topics ranging from issues of science and technology governance, public/private partnership, space colonization, delivery drones, legal and ethical issues, democratization of science, Internet governance, surveillance, privacy, and the power of sci-fi to solve wicked problems.  Even though, each panel had something interesting to contribute to the futures conversation, I will narrowly focus on two panels that caught my attention. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Dwight Holbrook, University of Adam Mickiewicz, hdwight10021@yahoo.com

Holbrook, Dwight. “What is an Object?” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 35-38.

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I offer the following response to Jesse Butler’s critique “Knowledge and the NOW: What Is the Epistemic Standing of the Present Moment?” (2014) his paper being a review and reply to my essay “Is Present Time a Precondition for the Existence of the Public and Material World?” published in Social Epistemology.

First, I want to commend the acuity of thought and analysis in Butler’s review. My response will focus on his two points of disagreement, the first of which figures essentially as a call for clarification and epistemic distinction, a suggestion well articulated and well founded to which I raise only a tangential concern. With regard to his second point of contention, I have rather substantive reservations that I express below.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Stefano Bigliardi, Tec de Monterrey, CSF, Mexico City and CMES, Lund University, stefano.bigliardi@cme.lu.se

Bigliardi, Stefano. “Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter! Replies to Howard and Hamza.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 30-34.

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I conflate, in the same piece, my replies to Damian Howard’s and Abdelhaq M. Hamza’s recent contributions first and foremost for reasons of space. However, I think they have a feature in common: both, in their own way, seem to imply the necessity of a preliminary step. A step backwards, in order to proceed further with the discussion. Reculer pour mieux sauter goes a known French expression: to draw back in order to make a greater leap. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Steve Fuller, University of Warwick, S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk and Veronika Lipinska, Lund University, veronika.lipinska@googlemail.com

Fuller, Steve and Veronika Lipinska. “Transhumanism.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 25-29.

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What follows is the first extended entry on ‘transhumanism’ in an encyclopedia of science and technology. It appears in J. Britt Holbrook and Carl Mitcham, eds. Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Global Resource, 2nd edition4 vols. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2015. Reproduced by permission: www.cengage.com/permissions.

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In most general terms, ‘transhumanism’ says that the indefinite projection of those qualities that most clearly distinguish humans from other natural beings is worth pursuing as a value in its own right – even if that means radically altering our material nature. This rather open definition of transhumanism nevertheless captures by implication all of those who might be against such a movement, not least those – often of a ‘Green’ persuasion — who believe that humanity’s current global crises stem from our attempts to minimize if not deny our commonality with the rest of nature. In this respect, ‘transhumanism’ needs to be distinguished from ‘posthumanism’, which aims to decentre the human as the locus of value altogether, which makes it more friendly to Green concerns. Whereas posthumanism may be seen in the broad sweep of Western intellectual history as ‘counter-Enlightenment’, transhumanism is better seen as ‘ultra-Enlightenment’: The one sees the Enlightenment as having gone too far, the latter not far enough. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Francesco Piraino, Scuola Normale Superiore, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, francesco.piraino@sns.it

Piraino, Francesco. “Bruno Guiderdoni—Among Sufism, Traditionalism and Science: A Reply to Bigliardi.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 21-24.

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I have met Bruno Guiderdoni in the context of my research about the development of European Sufism. Guiderdoni is not only a famous astrophysicist, but also the French khalifa (local leader) of the Italian Sufi order Ahmadhyya Idrsishiyya Shadiliyya led by Abdel Wahid Pallavicini and Yahya Pallavicini.

Guiderdoni is certainly the most important “Sufi” scientist I have encountered in my research, but he is not the only one. On the contrary, among European Sufi disciples, there are many scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. who do not feel any opposition between science and religion but, of course, they elaborate the relation between science and religion with different solutions. The relation between Sufism and science will certainly be investigated further, overpassing both the modern stereotype of an irrational and obscure mysticism (e.g. King 1999; Christmann 2008) and the New Age “quantum mysticism”. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Tommaso Castellani, Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies, t.castellani@irpps.cnr.it ; Emanuele Pontecorvo, Physics Department, Sapienza University of Rome; Adriana Valente, Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies, National Research Council of Italy, adriana.valente@cnr.it

Castellani, Tommaso, Emanuele Pontecorvo and Adriana Valente. “Epistemological Consequences of Bibliometrics: Insights from the Scientific Community.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 1-20.

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2890933648_8e232deaa9_z Image Credit: SamahR, via flickr

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to investigate the consequences of the bibliometrics-based system of evaluation of scientific production on the contents and methods of sciences. The research has been conducted by means of in-depth interviews to a multi-disciplinary panel of Italian researchers. We discuss the implications of bibliometrics on the choice of the research topic, on the experimental practices, on the publication habits. We observe that the validation of the bibliometric practices relies on the acceptance and diffusion within the scientific community, and that these practices are self-sustained through their wide application. We discuss possible evolving scenarios, also considering the recent development of digital archives.

Continue Reading…

Author Information: Alison Bailey, Illinois State University, baileya@ilstu.edu

Bailey, Alison. “The Unlevel Knowing Field: An Engagement with Dotson’s Third-Order Epistemic Oppression.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 10 (2014): 62-68.

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9497392072_779d192d6f_zImage credit: arbyreed, via flickr

We and you do not talk the same language. When we talk to you we use your language: the language of your experience and your theories. When we try to use it to communicate our world experiences, we only succeed in communicating our experience of exclusion. We cannot talk to you in our language because you do not understand it (Lugones and Spelman 1983, 575).

Social justice demands that we think carefully about the epistemic terrain upon which we stand and the epistemic resources each of relies upon to move across that ground safely. Epistemic cartographies are politically saturated. Broadly speaking these terrains are unlevel playing fields—I think of them as unlevel knowing fields– that offer members of socially dominant groups an epistemic home turf advantage.[1]  Members of marginalized groups must learn to navigate this field creatively. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Gregory Sandstrom, Lithuanian Research Council and European Humanities University, gregory.sandstrom@ehu.lt

Sandstrom, Gregory. “Reinventing Humanity with a New Sociological Imagination.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 1, no. 10 (2014): 56-61.

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Steve Fuller’s The New Sociological Imagination is a provocative book that touches on many contemporary themes in sociology and related human-social sciences. It is an attempt to update the contribution of an earlier book, The Sociological Imagination (1959) by C.W. Mills, which set the tone for a sociological revival in the United States in the 1960s. Fuller appeals to global humanity as a type of ‘endangered species’ due to the threat posed by ideologies such as naturalism, biologism and scientism, which Fuller claims result when biology and other natural sciences are elevated above human-social thought, as was demonstrated in the 20th century. Continue Reading…