Author Information: Amir Dastmalchian, Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue (FIIRD)

Dastmalchian, Amir. “Islam, Science, and Cognitive-Propositionalism.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 122-127.

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The discussion initiated by Stefano Bigliardi’s Social Epistemology article on proponents of the harmony between Islam and science currently includes, in addition to this article, ten contributions. Before I offer my own thoughts on the discussion it would seem appropriate to first offer a summary of its progression. After summarising, I present some observations on the tendency of Muslim scientists toward cognitive-propositionalism. This view on the interpretation of religious teaching was made relevant to the discussion by the contribution of Damian Howard. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Mark Caine, The Breakthrough Institute,

Caine, Mark. “Social Epistemology, Environmentalism and a Proactionary Human Future: An Interview with Steve Fuller.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014) : 106-121.

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What follows is an interview with Steve Fuller by the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland, California-based think-tank, renown for its ‘eco-modernist’ take on environmental problems. An abridged version of the interview appears on their website in two parts. Mark Caine, the original interviewer, posed the questions. Jenna Mukuno, Senior Editor, edited the version of the interview that appears on the Breakthrough website. We thank the Breakthrough Institute for allowing publication of the original version of this interview.

You’re currently the Chair in Social Epistemology at the University of Warwick. What is social Epistemology? Can you describe your current field of study and what background you bring to the position?

‘Social epistemology’ is, as the name suggests, about how the pursuit of knowledge ought to be organized. It is a normative interdisciplinary field, a kind of abstract research and education policy, if you will. The name itself was coined in the 1960s to re-brand library and information science in light of the possibilities opened up by the computer revolution for organizing and accessing knowledge—long before the internet!  When I started the journal and wrote the book called ‘Social Epistemology’ a quarter-century later (now a quarter-century ago), I was ignorant of this precedent, though I have come to embrace it. Originally I had conceived of the field as lying at the intersection of history, philosophy, and sociology of science—the three fields in which I was originally trained. But there has always been also a strong undertow of influence from psychology, economics, and even theology in my thinking. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Conor M.W. Douglas, Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) Group, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia,

Douglas, Conor M.W. “Response to Leonie van Drooge.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 103-105.

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It was with pleasure that I read Leonie van Drooge’s comments concerning our paper in the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective (SERRC). I should also add that I think that the SERRC is a great initiative, and I credit the editor (James Collier) and the editorial team at Social Epistemology for it.

For my taste, academic reviews are too often overly critical attempts to find holes in an argument; rather than an examination of what is good and valuable in a piece of work and building on it. To her credit Leonie van Drooge has done just that, and reviewed the work in question from the perspective of “what can I learn from this, and how can it be of use”… or to use her words: “what lessons could be learned from a policy point of view?” (2004, 19)? It was too my dismay that some of the policy implications of the work were not more readily visible/accessible, but thankfully van Drooge was nevertheless able to draw out some key points that were unfortunately “hidden” within the text. In the space that remains here I will build on van Drooge’s review to further discuss the prospective policy implications of the kinds of user/producer hybridity that we describe in our work. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Masudul Alam Choudhury, University of Toronto and International Islamic University,

Choudhury, Masudul Alam. “Islamic Political Economy: An Epistemological Approach.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 53-103.

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The budding field of Islamic political economy as premised on the epistemological roots of the monotheistic law and explained by the Qur’an and the sunnah (teachings of the Prophet Muhammad) is expounded. Several mainstream economic ideas are critically examined and their alternative treatment under Islamic political economy is expounded. The process-oriented model termed in this paper as the shuratic process or the discursively interactive, integrative and evolutionary process (IIE-learning process) is shown to be central to the methodology of the circular causation and continuity model of unified reality in Islamic political economy. Several concepts and applications are invoked in the methodological study of Islamic political economy. These involve a futuristic model of Arab political economy and the emergence of modern Turkish historicism a la Ibn Khaldun, by the Islamic contrariness to Eurocentricity. In order to bring out the widest conception and application of the methodology of Islamic political economy we examine the diverse problem of labour market wellbeing understood as labour market adaptation of Canadian Natives. This exam uses the methodology of Islamic political economy and shows its application to a contemporaneous real world issue. There is also a good deal of comparative study between Islam and the Occident concerning epistemological issues of the monotheistic law founded on the methodology of political economy. Such diverse applications bring out the extension of the field of Islamic political economy. Religious encumbrance are avoided and replaced by an epistemological worldview. Such a comprehensive study of Islamic political economy brings out a new and overarching economic, social, and scientific methodology that is extended to a field of intellectual inquiry beyond sheer religious outlook.

This paper was presented in the Seventeenth International Economic Association, Dead Sea, Jordan. July, 2014.

Political Economy and the Moral, Ethical, Cultural and Religions Groundwork

Every scientific treatment of great ideas emerges from epistemological foundations. This is true both of the natural and social sciences. Within both of these areas is embedded a methodology similar to that of political economy. This inclusive field comprises the methodological study of conflict and conflict resolution. In this regard, Smith’s idea of an economy and society governed by the law of natural liberty was a manifestation of the broad epistemological groundwork of a moral and scientific treatment (Smith, 1984). Yet in his Wealth of Nations the natural law of liberty gave rise to economic conflicts and the market system was treated as the resolver of the conflicts. Likewise, the French Physiocracy as the original school of political economy invoked the religious postulates of the just law within the framework of the monotheistic law. Quesnay and Turgot referred to the just law as jus divinumContinue Reading…

Author Information: Rebecca Kukla, Georgetown University,

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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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,

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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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, 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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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,

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,

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, and Veronika Lipinska, Lund University,

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:

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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…