Author Information: Elisa Vecchione, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,

Vecchione, Elisa. “Comments on the Technoprogressive Declaration.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 1 (2014): 46.

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I admit I am not very confortable with the Technoprogressive Declaration.

I have always been skeptical about the political entrepreneurship of scientists for I cherish the specificity of the work of scientists as much as that of politicians and policy analysts. Both have the potential to mobilize masses for they specifically have the power to accelerate human imagination through representation—be it in the political sense of projecting individual preferences into a common will, or in the scientific sense of projecting new futures. Now, the two projections are part of the same story, that of the future, but most of the time there is little attention to their connection.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Stefano Bigliardi, Tecnológico de Monterrey, CSF, Mexico City; Center for Middle Eastern Studies, CMES, Lund University,

Bigliardi, Stefano. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Iʿjāz.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 1 (2014): 38-45.

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Recent conversations with Salman Hameed and Vika Gardner at the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies (SSiMS, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA) about their ongoing project made me aware once again of the volume of iʿjāz-related material in the contemporary discourse over Islam and science, especially represented by videos uploaded on YouTube and other websites.

Classically, the term iʿjāz indicates the “invalidation of a challenge,” the impossibility of imitating the Qur’ān as to its content and form. In other words the term refers to the theological doctrine according to which a sign of the divinity of the Qur’ān is its incomparability or impossibility to be replicated; the like of the Qur’ān could not be produced even in a joint effort by human beings and supernatural ones.

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Author Information: Raphael Sassower, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs,

Sassower, Raphael. “Popper as a Socratic Public Intellectual.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 1 (2014): 35-37.

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Philip Benesch’s The Viennese Socrates indeed does justice to its subtitle: “Karl Popper and the Reconstruction of Progressive Politics” (2012). On one level, this is a most audacious battle-cry against right-wing apologists who claim Popper’s legacy as their own; on the other, it’s an outrageous response to decades of Left-wing dismissal of Popper as a reactionary crusader against Marxism. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much: it outlines a critically rational argument on behalf of a reinterpretation of Popper’s thought in politically progressive terms. This isn’t simply finding a comfortable middle ground for the legacy of Popper’s thought, but a search for the useful intellectual tools left for us by Popper, tools with which we should approach our own frustrations and lamentations concerning contemporary political debates. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Jesper Eckhardt Larsen, Agder University,

Larsen, Jesper Eckhardt. “Comment on Finn Collin and David Budtz Pedersen: ‘The Frankfurt School, Science and Technology Studies, and the Humanities.'” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 1 (2014): 27-34.

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he discussion of philosophical views on science seems often to have overlooked the humanities. Therefore it is praiseworthy that Finn Collin and David Budtz Pedersen, both from the University of Copenhagen, take on the relationship between recent views of (natural-) sciences and their sometimes only implicit indications on the humanities for a more thorough investigation.

The main argument, as I read the paper, is that both the German debate and the British debate on science and studies of science tend to stress a one fits all argument—not taking into account the less instrumental sides of both the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. A critique of instrumentalism and a critique of constructivism lay a foundation for the paper. And, in addition, a critique of the entrepreneurial university; that is, so to speak, embodying an instrumental view of all knowledge. A critique that is also praiseworthy in the eyes of this commenter.

A few overall points of critique shall be listed. Thereafter, a comment on Habermas’ position on the role of the humanities and the idea of a university will follow. The comment will end with a discussion on the historical causes of externalism in research policies and the birth of the entrepreneurial university.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Masudul Alam Choudhury, Trisakti University, Indonesia; Social Economy Center, OISE, University of Toronto,

Choudhury, Masudul Alam. ” A Rejoinder to Zaman.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2014): 14-15.

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Despite the freedom to express anyone’s views and criticism, any academic responder should know his duty of maintaining objectivity in such responses. Asad Zaman read a few introductory lines, of my paper, which to anyone are fully understandable being in the introduction part. Then, as mentioned by him in his comments, he skips to the conclusion section. This is a pity. It shows the most demeaning academic approach. The commentator’s intent here was to see whether his self-weaning search for citation was reflected in my references. This meant the commentator’s search for the citation of his menial unpublished or low-level publications that appear.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Tatiana Sokolova, Institute of Philosophy RAS, Higher School of Economics Moscow,

Sokolova, Tatiana. “Scientist as Fiction Writer: Soviet Science-Fiction and Space Exploration.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 1 (2014): 3-13.

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Editor’s Note: Tatiana Sokolova graciously provided us with the notes to a presentation she gave at the “Interprofessional and Interdisciplinary Relations in Russia” conference on Friday, September 19, 2014. The presentation notes are presented here.


The successes of the Soviet space programme (Satellite-1, the first man in space, and the first man in open space) are often considered to be the consequence of the arms race during the Cold War. This paper will aim to show that, at the ideological level, these successes were based on the synthesis of two seemingly contradictory philosophies: on the one hand, the philosophy of Russian Cosmism (especially in the version propounded by K. Tsiolkovsky), with the idea of man’s responsibility before all rational beings in the universe; and, on the other, the Marxist thesis about the elimination the gap between manual and intellectual labour.

Such a synthesis was possible thanks to the general orientation of both Marxism and Cosmism to build a new society organized on scientific grounds. Such a society demanded a new type of man, who did not only have advanced technical skills and scientific knowledge, but also had particular moral qualities, such as strong faith in humanity, readiness for self-sacrifice, and the courage to explore outer space. These qualities, as well as highly sophisticated (yet nonetheless fantastical) technologies, were brought together in the science-fiction literature written by Russian scientists (including K. Tsiolkovsky, A. Beliaev, I. Efremov and many others), who in such works did not confine themselves to the simple popularization of the hard sciences.

Inspired by Tsiolkovsky’s ideas, Soviet engineers and scientists (F. Zander, Y. Kondratyuk, S. Korolev and others) opened the new era of USSR’s space exploration. Thus, the paper will examine the interaction between philosophical ideas and technical achievements based on an analysis of Soviet science fiction literature from 1920s to 1957 (the year of the launch of Satellite-1), as well as of its critics from the scientific community.

The report is prepared with the support of RNF, Project № 14-18-02227 “Social Philosophy of Science. Russian Prospects”

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Author Information: Alexandra Argamakova, Russian Academy of Sciences,

Argamakova, Alexandra. “On the Technoprogressive Declaration.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 1 (2014): 1-2.

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 14994012588_b27e61caf4_kImage credit: Daniela Goulart, via flickr

When I was invited to give my response on the Technoprogressive Declaration, I originally felt that I had no say in the matter. The Declaration is designed to shape the Western political agenda, while I am a Russian citizen outside of European life. Nevertheless, it might be interesting for you to get to know how the declared ideas are perceived from ta Russian intellectual and cultural perspective. So, I hope you will find my response interesting. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Majid Daneshgar, University of Otago, New Zealand

Daneshgar, Majid. “Tantāwī: Western -Eastern Discoveries Embedded in Islam.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no.12 (2014): 113-115.

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This essay may take its place alongside S. Kamal Abdali’s statement that since the 1930s, Islam became a ‘system of life’ and it covers all aspects of human life.[1] This point that modern science helped Muslims to fully understand Islam as a system of life or as the origin of all Western-Eastern discoveries is still under consideration. On this subject, it would be interesting to know further about Tantāwī Jawharī (1862-1940); an Egyptian sheikh who opined that Islam covers all scientific findings in the Orient and Occident.  Continue Reading…

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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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…