Author Information: Clayton Littlejohn, King’s College London,

Littlejohn, Clayton. “A Note Concerning Conciliationism and Self-Defeat: A Reply to Matheson” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 104-112.

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Image credit: Allen Ellison, via flickr


What should we do when we discover that we disagree with a peer (i.e., someone we know to have our evidence, to be equally responsible, and to be equally intelligent)?   According to conciliationism, we should be conciliatory:

CV: If (i) at time t S1 is justified in adopting doxastic attitude D1 toward proposition p and (ii) at a later time t’ S1 becomes justified in believing that an epistemic peer S2 has adopted a competitor doxastic attitude D2 toward p, and (iii) at t’ S1 has no undefeated reason to discount S2’s conclusion; then at t’ S1 becomes less justified in adopting D1 toward p. Continue Reading…

Technoprogressive Declaration

SERRC —  November 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: We thank the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and the members of the Technoprogressive Caucus at Transvision 2014 (21 November), in Paris, for allowing us to repost the Technoprogressive Declaration. The caucus invites individual and organizational co-signators between now and the end of the year. The SERRC invites comment, below, from any and all readers. The SERRC will reply over the coming month.


Image credit: Daniela Goulart, via flickr

Technoprogressive Declaration

The world is unacceptably unequal and dangerous. Emerging technologies could make things dramatically better or worse. Unfortunately too few people yet understand the dimensions of both the threats and rewards that humanity faces. It is time for technoprogressives, transhumanists and futurists to step up our political engagement and attempt to influence the course of events.

Our core commitment is that both technological progress and democracy are required for the ongoing emancipation of humanity from its constraints. Partisans of the promises of the Enlightenment, we have many cousins in other movements for freedom and social justice. We must build solidarity with these movements, even as we intervene to point to the radical possibilities of technologies that they often ignore. With our fellow futurists and transhumanists we must intervene to insist that technologies are well-regulated and made universally accessible in strong and just societies. Technology could exacerbate inequality and catastrophic risks in the coming decades, or especially if democratized and well-regulated, ensure longer, healthy and more enabled lives for growing numbers of people, and a stronger and more secure civilization.

Beginning with our shared commitment to individual self-determination we can build solidarity with

  • Organizations defending workers and the unemployed, as technology transforms work and the economy
  • The movement for reproductive rights, around access to contraception, abortion, assisted reproduction and genomic choice
  • The movement for drug law reform around the defense of cognitive liberty
  • The disability rights movement around access to assistive and curative technologies
  • Sexual and gender minorities around the right to bodily self-determination
  • Digital rights movements around new freedoms and means of expression and organization

We call for dramatically expanded governmental research into anti-aging therapies, and universal access to those therapies as they are developed in order to make much longer and healthier lives accessible to everybody. We believe that there is no distinction between “therapies” and “enhancement.”  The regulation of drugs and devices needs reform to speed their approval.

As artificial intelligence, robotics and other technologies increasingly destroy more jobs than they create, and senior citizens live longer, we must join in calling for a radical reform of the economic system. All persons should be liberated from the necessity of the toil of work. Every human being should be guaranteed an income, healthcare, and life-long access to education.

We must join in working for the expansion of rights to all persons, human or not.

We must join with movements working to reduce existential risks, educating them about emerging threats they don’t yet take seriously, and proposing ways that emerging technologies can help reduce those risks. Transnational cooperation can meet the man-made and natural threats that we face.

It is time for technoprogressives to step forward and work together for a brighter future.

Author Information: Kwang-Kuo Hwang, National Taiwan University,

Hwang, Kwang-Kuo. “Outside Observer vs. Inside Doer: Divergent Perspectives on ‘Culture’ in the Indigenization Movement of Psychology” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 92-103.

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Image credit: Ashley Campbell, via flickr


In his rejoinder to my article, “Preserving cultural identity and subjectivity for a psychology of multiculturalism,” Allwood (2014a) proposed a series of questions awaiting further clarification. A careful examination of his questions indicates that most of them can be attributed to the divergent standpoints between us. As an outside observer to the indigenization movement of psychology, Allwood (2014b, c) concerns about “an appropriate culture concept for the indigenous psychologies,” “what type of culture concept will help the indigenous psychologies?” But, as president of the Asian Association of Indigenization Movement of Psychology for more than thirty years, my ultimate concern is how to construct culture-inclusive theories for psychology of multiculturalism in the age of globalization (Hwang 2013a, b; 2014). The culture-inclusive theories of psychology constructed in accordance with “One mind, many mentalities” (Shweder et al. 1998), the principle of cultural psychology, may enable IPists to conduct empirical research on related culture concepts in any given society.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Mehdi Golshani, Sharif University of Technology,

Golshani, Mehdi. “Some Clarifications Concerning My Views about Science and Religion.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 90-91.

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Image credit: European Southern Observatory, via flickr

In his criticism of Stefano Bigliardi’s recent monograph, Islam and the Quest for Modern Science, Ebrahim Azadegan offered two points, in relation to Bigliardi, characterizing my views on the relationship of science and religion:

(1) That Bigliardi does not consider me an advocate of “Islamization” of science;

(2) That Bigliardi considers me only as a believer in the harmony of Islam with science, or a believer in Islam being on equal footing with other monotheistic religions.

Here are my comments about these points:  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Asad Zaman, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics,

Zaman, Asad. “On Islamic Political Economy: A Brief Reply to Choudhury.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 89.

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Image credit: Muzaffar Bukhari, via flickr

According to the abstract and the first few sentences, this article is about the budding field of Islamic Political Economy. Since the labyrinthine prolixity of the article defied my attempts at comprehension, I looked at the reference list to find a more readable entry into this topic. Other than the author’s work, the bibliography only lists two dated articles on Islamic Political Economy. With no relevant articles within the past decade, and only three authors writing on this topic, is this really a “budding” field?  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Stephen Hilgartner, Cornell University,

Hilgartner, Stephen. “Studying Absences of Knowledge: Difficult Subfield or Basic Sensibility?” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 84-88.

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Image credit: Bill Richards, via flickr

The articles in this special issue make a strong case that studying absences of knowledge is important for the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). As single works and through the literature that they cite, they also illustrate how STS is increasingly framing absences of knowledge as an understudied and especially difficult topic (Rappert and Bauchspies 2014). I fully support paying more attention to absences of knowledge, and have long argued for doing so (e.g., Hilgartner 2001). However, I am unconvinced that the study of absences should be framed as a specialized “topic” or “area” or that radically new methods are needed to pursue it. Absences are too fundamental to the social aspects of knowledge to be imagined as a mere subfield. Instead, a broad sensibility attuned to the significance of absences should (and in many ways already does) inflect a wide range of STS research.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Dylan Evans, London School of Economics,

Evans, Dylan. “Review of, and Exchange on, Fuller and Lipińska.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 84-89.

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Editor’s note: Dylan Evans is a writer and entrepreneur who has written books on evolutionary psychology and the placebo effect. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the London School of Economics, and has taught at universities in the UK, Ireland, Lebanon and Guatemala. His next book, The Utopia Experiment, will be published by Picador in February 2015.


Image credit: NASA, via flickr

The new book by Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipińska, The Proactionary Imperative: A Foundation for Transhumanism (Palgrave 2014), might be a manifesto for the proactionary principle. In contrast to the precautionary principle, which “would have us minimize risk in the name of global survival,” the proactionary principle, they say, is about “embracing risk as constitutive of what it means to be human.” The term was first proposed by the transhumanist Max More in 2004, and according to Fuller and Lipińska the opposition between precautionary and proactionary approaches to regulating new technologies will be more politically illuminating in the twenty first century than the old distinction between Right and Left.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Joshua Earle, Virginia Tech,

Earle, Joshua. “Visioneering a Better Future: The Hieroglyph Project, STS, and the Future of Science and Technology.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 67-83.

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O n October 2nd, 2014 authors, scientists, policy experts and journalists gathered to ask how the future of science and technology intersects with fiction and storytelling. Future Tense—a partnership between the New America Foundation, Arizona State University and Slate magazine—and Issues in Science and Technology hosted “Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?” at the National Academies in Washington D.C. Inspired by Neal Stephenson’s 2011 piece “Innovation Starvation” and the resultant Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future anthology, the panelists tackled questions from the ethics of robot babysitters and drones, to who will get to imagine for the human race, how neuroscience might improve lives and the ethics therein, surveillance and privacy concerns, and the place of fiction in tackling wicked problems. I will take you through brief description of the Hieroglyph project, then introduce each of the panels with embedded videos, and then discuss some of the issues raised, some criticism of the discussions (including reactions of some of the people participating in the online discussion during the event), as well as identifying places where Science Technology and Society scholars may have be able to leverage our own expertise to affect some beneficial change.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Cindy Gallois, University of Queensland,

Gallois, Cindy. “Social Licence to Operate as Intergroup Communication: A Comment on the Special Issue Edited by Rooney, Leach, and Ashworth.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 51-54.

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negotiation Image credit: Georgie Pauwels, via flickr

In this brief comment to the special issue, my goal is to ask some questions, and perhaps to provoke some discussion of new topics, as well as the many aspects of this complex area that were raised by the authors.  My intention is not to criticise, because in my opinion, Rooney, Leach, and Ashworth have done a great service in putting together this issue.  The authors consider the concept of social licence to operate (SLO) in innovative ways and in new contexts.  Overall, as the Editors note in the introduction and Miller argues in the concluding paper, the special issue points up the paradoxes and contradictions at the heart of this concept and its application in practice.  In my opinion, the special issue should be read and discussed by everyone who is interested in community and social engagement around science and technology, and in addressing the most complex social problems of our times.  Continue Reading…

In this Special Issue, our multinational contributors share their perspective on epistemic claims and the moral implications of how one should present them via mass media.  Though the individual responses vary, they fall under two headings: 1) New Media and Social Justice, and 2) Mass Media, Popular Science, and Bad Reporting.

The PDFs of each article give specific page numbers. Shortlink:

Please refer to: Special Issue 1: “Normative Functionalism and the Pittsburgh School” and Special Issue 2: “On the Future Direction of Social Epistemology.”

I. New Media and Social Justice

Considering Online News Comments: Are We Really So Irrational and Hate Filled?
Maureen Linker, University of Michigan-Dearborn, USA

Hashtag Feminism and Twitter Activism in India
Elizabeth Losh, University of California, San Diego, USA

II. Mass Media, Popular Science, and Bad Reporting

Science and Scientism in Popular Science Writing
Jeroen de Ridder, VU University Amsterdamm NL

From Science in the Papers to Science in the News
Carlos Elías Pérez, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, ES and Jesús Zamora Bonilla, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, ES

Free Will as an Illusion: Ethical and Epistemological Consequences of an Alleged Revolutionary Truth
Mario De Caro, Università Roma Tre and Tufts University and Andrea Lavazza, Centro Universitario Internazionale, Arezzo, Italy