Editor’s Note:

    Taylor & Francis, the publisher of Social Epistemology, has kindly agreed to make the full text of the introduction to each issue freely available.

The idea of “capacity”—personal, communal, local and structural—might best convey the common concern that emerges from the contributions to this issue of Social Epistemology. Our contributors allude to the capacity for valuing knowledge; the capacity for communities to know and to act on their knowledge; the capacity to evaluate oral testimony; the capacity to integrate cognitive structures with social action; and the capacity to delineate the economic structures that surround us. … please read the full text introduction …


Author Information: Alcibiades Malapi-Nelson, York Universityalci.malapi@outlook.com

Malapi-Nelson, Alcibiades . “Some Clarifying Points Regarding Shiffman’s Criticism of Fuller.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 2 (2016): 1-5.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2Ah


Image credit: ImAges ImprObables, via flickr

Mark Shiffman recently published a review of Steve Fuller’s The Proactionary Imperative in the Journal of Religion and Public Life First Things (“Humanity 4.5”, Nov. 2015). While the main synopsis of Fuller’s argument regarding tranhumanism seems fair and accurate, there are a number of points where the author likely does not entirely get Fuller’s views within a broader context—namely, that of Fuller’s previous work. Also, Shiffman does not clarify features of his own theoretical context that later trigger some amount of confusion.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Frank Zenker, Konstanz University, frank.zenker@fil.lu.se

Zenker, Frank. “Having Knowledge from Multiple Testimonies: Reply to Tucker’s ‘The Generation of Knowledge from Multiple Testimonies’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 52-55.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2zD

Please refer to:


Image credit: Boston Public Library, via flickr

Aviezer Tucker’s non-reductive, genealogical account of knowledge from multiple testimonies (KMT) is informed by, and seeks to square with, the professional praxis of such folk as historians, journalists, detectives, or judges. This reply seeks to add precision to Tucker’s account by chancing definitions of key-terms. The final section particularly stresses the difficulties of ascertaining whether one has KMT on some occasion, or not.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Steve Fuller, Warwick University, S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk

Fuller, Steve. “‘Is Science Out of Control?’ A Failed Book Proposal.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 48-51.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2zp

Author’s Note:

In 2013, I was invited to publish a book in a new Polity Press series on ‘New Human Frontiers’, which had already commissioned books by, among others, Harry Collins and Mike Hulme. These books were meant to be short and punchy—30,000 words with a clear message. The question posed by the title had been agreed—but not the specific take on it. Polity, a publisher of two of my previous books (including one portraying intelligent design in a sympathetic light), found the argument made for the generally negative answer to the question unacceptable.


Image credit: Andreas Brink, via flickr

If any form of authority can claim to have global reach, it is science. With the backing of science, virtually anything is possible politically. Medical scientists compel vaccinations, dietary regimes and hospital stays. Earth scientists license the movement of people from their homes and alter the patterns of their energy use. Economic scientists dictate the flow of money and define who is rich and poor. But all of these scientists are not subject to the normal democratic processes of accountability. Few if any of them are even elected to public office. Rather, they serve as advisors to elected officials or act at a distance in universities and think tanks as ‘thought leaders’. This state-of-affairs alone might suggest that science is ‘out of control’.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Meera Nanda, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali [1] meerananda@iisermohali.ac.in

Nanda, Meera. “Saffronized Science: Rampant Pseudoscience in ‘Vedic Garb’ in the Indian Subcontinent.” [2].” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 39-47.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2z4

Please refer to:

    Articles related to the broader discussion on Islam and science, hosted by the SERRC, are listed below the article. [a]


Image credit: JanetandPhil, via flickr

Some years ago, I happened to watch an advertisement for Rajnigandha paan masala[3] on TV that struck a nerve with me. This is how it went: A bespectacled young Indian man in a tweed jacket is sitting in a classroom at an American campus where a professor is writing some rather complicated looking mathematical equations on the chalk board. The young man appears bored; he is looking out of the window and doodling on his notepad. Speaking in an exaggerated American drawl, the professor asks how much time the class will need to solve a problem causing all the European and Chinese-looking students to balk at the task claiming the problem is too tough. Muttering racist-sounding epithets, the professor calls upon the desi. The Indian student gets up, takes out a small can of paan masala from his jacket and puts some in his mouth. He then walks up to the board and solves the mathematical problem without a moment’s hesitation. The classroom breaks into cheers. The image of a packet of Rajnigandha paan masala appears on the screen with the following voice-over: “We already knew the answer. Waiting for the question is our culture.” The advertisement ends with a jingle: “With Rajnigandha in your mouth, the world is at your feet.” [4]  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Stephen Norrie, UK, sjenorrie@gmail.com

Norrie, Stephen. “So, What Is a Research University? A Review of Chad Wellmon’s Organizing Enlightenment.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 31-38.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2yJ


Image credit: Johns Hopkins University Press

Organizing Enlightenment
Chad Wellmon
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015
368 pp.

Whatever the future holds for the university, we are not going to master it unless we understand its past. In particular, calls to split research and teaching, and to replace the traditional professor with MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and other forms of pre-packaged content delivery presuppose that the university has been primarily a content-delivery service, which might then be superseded by more efficient information-delivery technologies. In this important, illuminating and well-written book, Chad Wellmon argues that the research university evolved primarily to fulfil the function of information control rather than delivery.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Steve Fuller, Warwick University, S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk

Fuller, Steve. “Markets as Educators, or Have We Always Been Neo-Liberal?” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 29-30.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2yu

Please refer to:

Essex University Accommodation Essex Southend Campus 2015 WEB GRADE

Image credit: University of Essex, via flickr

No one in the UK has a bad word for the ‘Robbins Report’, which in 1963 licensed the creation of several campus-based, social science-friendly universities, including Essex, Sussex, Lancaster, York and my own, Warwick—all of which have recently celebrated their fiftieth anniversaries at the top of the world league tables for universities of their vintage. The report is understood in the UK as a high watermark for the recognition of the value of higher education to society at large. Under its auspices, unprecedented numbers of people from non-elite backgrounds suddenly had universities they could reasonably aspire to attending. Successive waves of university creation throughout the world have invoked this report for legitimacy. But there is more to its success than meets the eye.   Continue Reading…

Author Information: Nikolaj Nottelmann, University of Southern Denmark, nottelmann@sdu.dk

Nottelmann, Nikolaj . “Epistemic Poverty, Internalism, and Justified Belief: A Response to Robert Lockie.”[1] Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 12-28.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2y8

Please refer to:


Image credit: U.S. Army, via flickr


In his recent Social Epistemology article “Perspectivism, Deontologism and Epistemic Poverty” Robert Lockie aims to disarm the so-called “epistemic poverty objection” to the deontological conception of epistemic justification (DCEJ). I first offer a regimentation of that objection, inspired by Laurence BonJour. I then turn to examining Lockie’s counter-arguments. As it turns out, rather than addressing directly conceptual issues within epistemology, Lockie’s main efforts go into arguing that generally epistemic subjects from outside contemporary advanced communities are not as poverty-stricken, as some modern epistemologists may have thought. I review Lockie’s arguments to that conclusion as well as alternative ways of arguing for a similar point, and conclude that they do not decisively undermine the poverty objection. I then turn to Lockie’s argument that a suitable version of epistemic access-internalism may successfully counter the poverty objection. I here conclude that the version of access-internalism Lockie needs is non-standard as well as implausible. The upshot is that even if Lockie’s article has brought several interesting and original concerns to bear on the debate over DCEJ, he has not defeated the poverty objection.  Continue Reading…

Author Information:Steve Fuller, University of Warwick S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk

Fuller, Steve. “A Robust Challenge to the Value of a University Education.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 10-11.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2xZ

Author’s Note: In 1995 John Brockman, venerable literary agent to the scientific stars, published a book of interviews with prominent scientists called The Third Culture, which heralded the need for a forum for distinguished practitioners of the arts and the sciences to interact freely on the great issues concerning humanity. He subsequently set up the website, www.edge.org, which includes many of these interactions, and since 1997 has posed an annual question to the denizens of this ‘third culture’, nicknamed ‘Edgies’. Since 2013, Steve Fuller has been one of these people and below is his response to 2016’s annual question, ‘What do you consider the most interesting recent (scientific) news? What makes it interesting?’


Image credit: Charles Clegg, via flickr

Just in time for the start of the 2015-16 academic year, the UK branch of one of the world’s leading accounting firms, Ernst & Young, announced that it would no longer require a university degree as a condition of employment. Instead it would administer its own tests to prospective junior employees. In the future, this event will be seen as the tipping point towards the end of the university as an all-purpose credentials mill that feeds the ‘knowledge-based’ economy.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Jonathan Matheson, University of North Florida, j.matheson@unf.edu; Katelyn Hallman, University of North Florida, kshallman@gmail.com

Matheson, Jonathan and Katelyn Hallman. “Taking Issue: A Review of Bryan Frances’ Disagreement.Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 7-9.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2xH


Image credit: Polity Press

Bryan Francis
Polity, 2014
224 pp.

There is a burgeoning literature on the epistemic significance of disagreement. Bryan Frances’ book, Disagreement, is a well-written and thorough introduction to the epistemic issues surrounding this philosophical issue. This timely book is introductory in nature and provides an excellent launching point for entering into the contemporary debate on the epistemic significance of disagreement. Disagreement borders both theoretical and applied issues in epistemology with a focus on real-world applications. Frances’ book exemplifies careful and systematic philosophical thinking and employs the method of cases. The book progresses in a systematic manner, with clear definitions, accessible examples, review chapters, as well as sample study questions. To help student and professor alike, the book also has progress summaries scattered throughout. The book is split into two sections: the first clarifies the central questions relevant to the epistemology of disagreement and the second analyzes some intuitive answers. In what follows we will provide an overview of the book and raise several critical points.  Continue Reading…