“Philosophy as Therapy and Philosophical Anthropology”, Leah Carr, University of Queensland


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After struggling with several attempts to write a vision statement, I decided a confessional tack might help me to communicate a bit better what my thoughts are about social epistemology. I am a philosopher (an apprentice one at that) rather than a social scientist. But, more than that, I’m really the kind of philosopher more focused on a personal ethics than I am on how society functions. My research topic is on philosophical therapy, sometimes called “philosophy as a way of life” (Pierre Hadot’s framing), an ethics of self-cultivation or eudaimonistic ethics (maybe you can throw virtue ethics in there too). Please read more …

Author Information: Gabriele Gramelsberger, Institute of Advanced Studies on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS), Leuphana University of Lüneburg, gab@zedat.fu-berlin.de

Gramelsberger, Gabriele. “Symbol Systems as Cognitive and Performative Hybrids: A Reply to Axel Gelfert.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 89-94.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2g0

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Symbol systems such as mathematical formalisms, diagrammatic methods, and visual symbol systems are used widely in science as representational resources and often give rise to what are generally referred to as ‘scientific models’. This has led to an extensive philosophical debate on the nature of such models (for an overview see Frigg and Hartmann 2012). While many philosophers have discussed models in terms of realisms and truth, pragmatic viewpoints are often underrated, in particular when it comes to the individual researchers’ ability to apply and advance such symbol systems. Axel Gelfert’s paper argues for a pragmatic perspective and recognizes the work of Mary Hesse and Nelson Goodman as advancing interesting theories concerning the individual and collaborative use of models (Hesse 1963; Goodman 1976). Continue Reading…

Author Information: Markus Seidel, University of Münster, maseidel@hotmail.com

Seidel, Markus. “Ludwik Fleck’s Scientism.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 79-88.

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

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In a recent paper in Social Epistemology Dimitri Ginev aims to show that Ludwik Fleck uses transcendental arguments in two contexts in his work that are closely intertwined: the context of comparative cognitive sociology and the context of socio-historical epistemology (Ginev 2015, 3-4). I am skeptical about Ginev’s interpretation and my aim is to show that at least the part of Ginev’s argument in which he aims to show Fleck’s use of transcendental arguments in the context of socio-historical epistemology is not convincing. To my mind, a much better interpretation of Fleck’s argument in this context is to see Fleck as using scientistic instead of transcendental arguments. Since my argument will be based on a much closer reading of Fleck’s wording than is provided by Ginev, I can only focus on a very short passage in Ginev’s paper and will not discuss the paper as a whole.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Richard E. Combes, University of South Carolina Upstate, rcombes@uscupstate.edu

Combes, Richard E. “McCraw on the Nature of Epistemic Trust.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 76-78.

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

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In “The Nature of Epistemic Trust”, Benjamin W. McCraw (2015) offers an appealing account of what it means to trust someone epistemically. More than merely the recognition that some state of affairs is the case, epistemic trust includes an affective, non-propositional attitude as well, namely, a strong conviction in the integrity of the one trusted. According to McCraw, if Jones places epistemic trust in Smith that some proposition is true, the following four conditions need to be satisfied:  Continue Reading…

Nomad Suicidology, Scott Kouri

SERRC —  August 18, 2015 — 2 Comments

Author Information: Scott Kouri, University of Victoria, scott.kouri@gmail.com

Kouri, Scott. “Nomad Suicidology.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 66-75.

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

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Suicide is perhaps the most intimate and affectively charged of human experiences, yet its formal study, under the general rubric of suicidology, is a science of statistics—biological or social—that is disembodied and aloof. Mainstream suicidology, rather than allowing itself to be affected by the living world of culture, context, and corporeality, takes a limited and fixed view of suicide as its object and generally excludes competing frameworks and alternative interpretations for why people take their lives.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Justin Cruickshank, University of Birmingham, UK, j.cruickshank@bham.ac.uk

Cruickshank, Justin. “Neoliberalism, the ‘Scientific Enterprise’ and the ‘Business of People’: Comments on the Sociology and Politics of Knowledge Production.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 53-65.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2f0

Editors Note:

    Given the rich and extensive history of this exchange related articles, replies and responses are provided below the references section.[1]


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In his latest reply (2015a), and in his recent ‘Compromising the Ideals of Science’ (2015b), Raphael Sassower draws together concerns with the natural sciences and political economy. For Sassower (2015a, 2015b) the conception of the natural sciences has changed over time as cultural assumptions, influenced in part by the sociological ‘demystification’ of science, have changed alongside developments in the political economy of science, with much research now being funded by non-scientific bodies (the state and corporations), who seek to regulate or manipulate the outcomes of research.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, University of Glasgow, vittal.katikireddi@glasgow.ac.uk

Katikireddi, Srinivasa Vittal. “Reply to ‘What Constitutes “Good” Evidence for Public Health and Social Policy Making? From Hierarchies to Appropriateness’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 51-55.

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

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The academic community has long considered how knowledge can and should influence decision-making. The evidence-based medicine movement rose to prominence in the 1990s, with its influence extending from clinical decisions to areas of social policy. Parkhurst and Abeysinghe provide a useful addition to the literature which ambitiously draws on three different disciplinary perspectives—political science, philosophy of science and the sociology of knowledge—to reflect on the limitations of evidence hierarchies for informing policy decisions (2014). Public health is perhaps a natural focus of enquiry, drawing as it does on clinical disciplines as well as the social and political sciences.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Seumas Miller, Charles Sturt University, Delft University of Technology, semiller@csu.edu.au

Miller, Seumas. “Joint Epistemic Action and Collective Moral Responsibility: Reply to Andras Szigeti.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 40-50.

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

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In his thoughtful reply[1] (Reply) to my paper, “Joint Epistemic Action and Collective Moral Responsibility”[2] (JEA) Andras Szigeti makes a number of points by way of testing and strengthening my general account. I am grateful for the opportunity to further clarify and elaborate my account.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Jessica Tatchell, University of Warwick, j.tatchell@warwick.ac.uk

Tatchell, Jessica. “Making Human Rights Fit for the 21st Century: The Challenge of Morphological Freedom.” [1] Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 34-39.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2e5


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Many strong and valid arguments against the idea of human rights exist. Is it right, for example, to assume universality; that is, do all human beings in all societies require and/or desire the same rights? Are these universal rights predicated on Western values and norms, leading to discriminatory behaviour towards those who do not fit this Christian ideal of human nature (Walker 2015)? Furthermore, is it feasibly possible to legally enforce and protect the rights of individuals on a global scale without contradicting principles of national sovereignty (Fagen 2009)? These are indeed pressing issues worthy of consideration. However, this essay aims to present the argument that our contemporary notion of human rights is not fit for the 21st century. It is not an argument against the idea of a system of rights that morally and/or legally has the intention of protecting humanity, but rather, human rights as it exists in its present form needs to respond and adapt to the emerging needs of present and future generations.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: David Pauleen, Massey University, D.Pauleen@massey.ac.nz; David Rooney, Macquarie University, david.rooney@mq.edu.au and Ali Intezari, Massey University, A. Intezari@massey.ac.nz

Pauleen, David, David Rooney and Ali Intezari. “Big Data, Little Wisdom: Trouble Brewing? Ethical Implications for the Information Systems Discipline.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 9-33.

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


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How can wisdom and its inherent drive for integration help information systems in the development of practices for responsibly and ethically managing big data, ubiquitous information, and algorithmic knowledge—particularly in their collection, integration, analysis, presentation, and use—and so make the world a better place? We use the recent financial crises to illustrate the perils of an overreliance on and misuse of data, information, and predictive knowledge when global IS are not wisely integrated. Our analysis shows that the global financial crisis was in part caused by a serious lack of integration of information with the larger context of social, cultural, economic, and political dynamics. Integration of all the variables in a global and information hungry industry is exceptionally difficult, and so ‘exceptionality’ of some kind is needed to make sufficient integration happen. Wisdom, we suggest, is the exceptionality needed to lead successful integration. We expect that a wisdom-based shift can lead to more organisationally effective and socially responsible IS.  Continue Reading…