Author Information: Frank Scalambrino, University of Dallas,; Adam Riggio, McMaster University,; Emma Craddock, University of Nottingham,; Susan Dieleman, Dalhousie University,

Scalambrino, Frank, Adam Riggio, Emma Craddock and Susan Dieleman. “The Future of the Enlightenment?” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 33-36.

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Image credit: HarperCollins

Enlightenment 2.0
Joseph Heath
336 pp.

Frank Scalambrino

This book is easy to read. Heath’s references range from popular figures like Stephen Colbert to the results of sophisticated science experiments. Heath sees his book as responding to “the problem that sparked the initial demand for a return to reason,” and he characterizes that problem as “the epidemic of craziness that seems to have swept over the American political landscape” (335). Heath begins with a diagnosis of contemporary American society, culture and politics in which he criticizes both conservatives and liberals. His diagnosis, in general, correctly identifies an overly subjective and irrational politics emanating from, and supported by, today’s psychologists and contemporary psychology (9 and 19). He correctly locates the origin of such thinking in the “vulgar romanticism” (113) of Sigmund Freud, specifically the Freudian attribution of agency to “The Unconscious” (37). We are reminded how Freud referred to his bringing of psychoanalysis to America; he believed he was bringing us a “plague.”  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Jonathan Matheson, University of North Florida,

Matheson, Jonathan. “Epistemic Norms and Self-Defeat: A Reply to Littlejohn.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 26-32.

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Image credit: myshko_, via flickr

In “Are Conciliatory Views of Disagreement Self-Defeating?” I argued that we should revise how we understand conciliatory views of disagreement. Conciliatory views of disagreement claim that discovering that an epistemic peer disagrees with you is epistemically significant. In particular, they have been understood as claiming that becoming aware that an epistemic peer disagrees with you about a proposition makes you less justified in adopting the doxastic attitude that you had toward that proposition. So, if you believed p and became aware that your epistemic peer disbelieves p, then you would become less justified in believing p, at least so long as you have no undefeated reason to discount your peer’s conclusion about p. More formally, conciliationism has been understood as claiming the following:  Continue Reading…

Jesse Butler, University of Central Arkansas,

Butler, Jesse. “Knowledge, Objects, and the Objective NOW.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 21-25.

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In his response (Holbrook 2014) to my discussion (Butler 2014) of his work (Holbrook 2015), Dwight Holbrook’s primary counterpoint is a rejection of my account of phenomenal knowledge. He claims that knowledge requires an object, thereby rejecting the possibility of phenomenal knowledge as a distinct kind of knowledge in which there is no object that stands apart from the knowing subject. In his words, “knowledge iff subject and object are differentiated” (Holbrook 2014, 37).  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Tereza Stöckelová, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences,

Stöckelová, Tereza. “Unspoken Complicity: Further Comments on Castellani, Pontecorvo and Valente and Rip.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 17-20.

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As academia changes, it is vitally important to reflect on and study these changes empirically. However, while bibliometrics, research assessment exercises and modes of publishing, more generally, constitutes a major aspect of these changes—and many of the unsettling insights offered by the paper under discussion resonate with my own research— the tendencies, as I will argue, are more differentiated, varied and ambiguous than what might be concluded from Castellani, Pontecorvo and Valente’s paper (2014). In my commentary, I will further develop selected points made by Rip (2014). These points will concern methodology, the active role of scientists in the proliferation of measurements in contemporary research systems and the situated nature of practices of valuing academic performance. I will draw upon my, and my colleagues’, research in the Czech Republic (Linková, Stöckelová 2012; Stöckelová 2012, 2014; Felt, Stöckelová 2009; Dvořáčková et al. 2014) where—similarly to Italy—bibliometrics and quantitative research evaluation have started recently to play a major role.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Stefano Bigliardi, Tec de Monterrey, Campus Santa Fe, Mexico City; CMES, Lund University,

Bigliardi, Stefano. “Some Observations on Isra Yazicioglu’s Understanding the Qur’anic Miracle Stories in the Modern Age.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 13-16.

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In the conclusive sections of his monograph Islam’s Quantum Question (2011), which stands out in the contemporary debate over Islam and science not only by virtue of the original, specific viewpoints expressed but also for its capacity to depict in detail the landscape of that very debate, Nidhal Guessoum rightly focuses on the issue of miracles as one that proves crucial in the discussion over the harmony of Islam and science as well as, more generally, at the interface of science and religion. [1]  Continue Reading…

Sarah Sawyer, University of Sussex, Contact details:

Sawyer, Sarah . “Contrastivism and Anti-Individualism Part II: A Further Response to Aikin and Dabay.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 10-12.

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Aikin and Dabay accept my claim that a subject S’s contrastive knowledge of the proposition that she ψs that p requires there to be a positive contrast class—the set of propositions in contrast to which S knows that she ψs that p—and a negative contrast class—the set of propositions in contrast to which S does not know that she ψs that p. Put in terms of concepts, contrastive self-knowledge requires, as Aikin and Dabay put it (2014b, 1):

(i) that the knower, S, possess a concept, C, that occurs in the proposition she knows;
(ii) that there be a set of positively contrasting concepts to C; and
(iii) that there be a set of negatively contrasting concepts to C.

I have previously argued that condition (iii) can only be satisfied if anti-individualism is true (Sawyer 2014b). The possibility of negatively contrasting concepts, I maintain, depends on an anti-individualistic understanding of concepts, and hence contrastive self-knowledge entails anti-individualism. Aikin and Dabay disagree. According to them, an individualistic understanding of concepts also allows for negatively contrasting concepts, and hence contrastive self-knowledge does not entail anti-individualism. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Adam Riggio, McMaster University,

Riggio, Adam. “A Transhuman Remains All Too Human, or What’s the Point of Bio-Technological Enhancement If You’ll Still Be the Same Old Jerk? Part II.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 5-9.

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Post- and Transhumanism: An Introduction
Edited by Robert Ranisch and Stefan Lorenz Sorgner
Peter Lang GmbH, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften
313 pp.

“Scratch a transhumanist and you will find a humanist underneath,” writes Michael Hauskeller in his essay “Utopia” in the volume Post and Transhumanism. There could be no more clear way to voice my own problem with transhumanist programs.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences,

Markova, Lyudmila A. “Comments on Steve Fuller’s Presentation in Moscow.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 1-4.

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Editor’s Note: Professor Markova refers both to Steve Fuller’s paper and presentation, “Customised Science as a Reflection of Protscience”, given at the “Social Philosophy of Science. Russian Prospects” conference in Moscow (held from November 18-20, 2014). Please refer below both to a video of Fuller’s presentation and to “Гуманитарное знание и социальные технологии”.


Image credit: AndreyY, via flickr


Steve Fuller raises the problem of the relation between science and society differently than many contemporary philosophers and sociologists. Unlike many philosophers, Fuller does not look for the sociality of scientific knowledge in the peculiarities of experimentation in quantum physics—the basis for a significant trend in science studies by researchers in social philosophy. At the same time, Fuller does not try to understand the social character of the birth of knowledge from the social communication of scientists in the frame of the scientific community, or from life in a scientific laboratory. Rather, Fuller aims to show science’s unique presence in society as a commodity and the absence of scientists in the birth of a new scientific knowledge This view is particularly important to understand in connection with reforms of science that politicians pursue in reference to changes taking place in society.

Steve Fuller’s primary focus on the processes taking place in society, and not solely among scientists, allows us to take a new look at a number of concepts used in analyzing science. I will consider some of them in the broader context of his paper and presentation in Moscow.[1]  Continue Reading…



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My sincerest thanks to the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collectives’ contributors and readers for an extraordinarily successful 2014. For the year, our reader views surpassed 53,500. Our views continue to increase both significantly and steadily. Thank you very much for supporting our work.

Highlights, in brief, of 2014:

For 2015:

  • Many of the contributions to the Collective Vision page will provide the basis for our first book, The Future of Social Epistemology: A Collective Vision, to appear in summer 2015. We look forward to the titles appearing our book series this year;
  • With support from Virginia Tech libraries, we will purchase ISBN numbers. With ISBN numbers in hand, we will publish freely available e-books from selected previous exchanges and special editions. ISBN numbers will allow our e-books to be listed on WorldCat;
  • We will revamp and renew our Collective Vision page;
  • We will provide new and additional replies to articles published in Social Epistemology, reviews of books, and new contributions from the SERRC;
  • We will add members to the SERRC. If you interested in joining us (secret decoder ring included!), please contact me— We’re a good group.

We strongly encourage readers to contribute comments to our posts. And we ask readers to propose ideas or projects that can be developed independently, or collaboratively, with members of the SERRC. Together, we will explore, analyze and re-imagine knowledge as a social endeavor. Please contact me——if you are interested.

Thank you for the past year. We look forward eagerly to 2015.

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

Sassower, Raphael. “Radical Public Intellectuals.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 1 (2014): 57-63.

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In their latest installment, Ioana Cerasella Chis and Justin Cruickshank (2014) were extremely generous in their praise for my work and my views, but only up to a point. Their concern over my “liberal conception of dialogue” and the elitist posture that would necessarily privilege the reproduction of power relations is couched in a demand for radicalism in and outside the university system. They end their essay with four questions they ask me to answer. So, I have my homework assignment, reminiscent of a comment a colleague of mine made to me decades ago that our reading lists are now dictated by colleagues instead of our professors. I’m grateful for the opportunity to respond, but before I move to their questions, let me say something about radicalism rather than intellectuals. I feel, perhaps wrongly, that I have provided an exhaustive enough list of putative public intellectuals in my book (2014) that it allows interested parties to pick and choose among them; so, I refrain from rehearsing this list here.  Continue Reading…