Author Information: Beth Landau-Halpern,

Landau-Halpern, Beth. “The Costs and Consequences of Teaching and Analyzing Alternative Medicine.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 9 (2016): 42-45.

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Image credit: Partha S. Sahana, via flickr

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Brian Martin’s article “Public Health and Academic Freedom,”[1] written in response to Durrheim and Jones’ “Public health and the Necessary Limits of Academic Freedom?”[2] in which the authors argue that concerns for public health should curtail the operations of normal academic freedom. I am the Canadian mentioned in the article, the instructor of a course at the University of Toronto that the media came to call the “Anti-Vaccination Course” in a series of articles seemingly based on hysteria and ideology, rather than an informed understanding of the content of the course, the ideas presented within that course, or the place of the course within the context of the Health Studies program that offered it.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Adam Riggio, New Democratic Party of Canada,

Riggio, Adam. “The Violence of Pure Reason: Neoreaction: A Basilisk.Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 9 (2016): 34-41.

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Neoreaction: A Basilisk
Philip Sandifer
Eruditorum Press, 2017

I should start this review with a few simple reasons why you should read Neoreaction: A Basilisk.

A) If you want to understand the fundamental philosophies of the destructive, racist, right-wing, Trump-loving culture that has grown from a few slimy 4chan message boards to a significant reactionary political movement.

B) If you are a professional researcher working in any study of the sociology of knowledge, the nature of knowledge, facticity, or truth. Especially if you want your research to affect wider audiences than fellow academics in your field. If you want to study and write about the nature of knowledge not only as an academic, in other words, but as a public intellectual.

C) If you simply enjoy reading complex, insightful, informative books of theory and analysis.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Mark D. West, University of North Carolina at Asheville,

West, Mark D. “Considering Purposeful Epistemology: On Starting Over. Review of Epistemic Evaluation: Purposeful Epistemology.Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 9 (2016): 19-33.

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Epistemic Evaluation: Purposeful Epistemology
David K. Henderson and John Greco, editors
Oxford University Press, 2015
272 pp.

After the publication of Gettier’s seminal work on confounding cases in which individuals have beliefs which appear to be both true and justified, but which seem to not be knowledge, the epistemic community appears to have generally conceded that the traditional definition of knowledge as “justified true belief” can no longer be considered to hold.[1] Cohen’s presents as a Gettier case the example of the farmer and the cow, in which a farmer sees a newspaper trapped in a bush, and thus believes she sees her favorite cow in a field; the cow is in fact in that field, but hidden behind a tree.[2] Thus the farmer has justified true belief concerning the cow, since the farmer believes the cow is in the field, which is indeed the case; but has she knowledge?  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Harry Collins, Cardiff University,


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With any fractal there comes a point when as the scale becomes smaller the fractal nature of the object ceases to apply. The florets of a cauliflower have sub-florets within them and so on but eventually one reaches the organism’s individual cells. The same applies when the fractal model is used to understand the way social groups are embedded within on another— eventually individual decisions—shall I have salad or omelette for lunch—cease to exhibit the collective quality (though note that the available range of the choice is still collective—mostly it does not include sheep’s eye). The actuality of the [Ron] Drever lock-out has to be understood this way.[1]

[1] Editor’s Note: Collins describes the incident involving Ron Drever in “Collectivities and Tacit Knowledge” (2016). In response, Moodey addresses the issue in “The Fault-Line Remains: A Reply to Collins” (2016).

Author Information: Ilya Kasavin, Russian Academy of Sciences,

Kasavin, Ilya. “A Brief Comment on the Moodey – Collins Exchange on Knowledge.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 9 (2016): 18.

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In der Bibliothek

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Richard Moodey, in his reply to Harry Collins, wrote:

My disagreement with Collins turns on my denial that “knowledge” is something that can be “possessed,” the same sense that money or physical objects can be possessed. If “knowledge” is imagined to be something that can be possessed, then it follows that it can be possessed by either a collectivity or a person. I do not, however, imagine knowledge to be something that can be possessed. I imagine “knowledge” as inseparable from acts of knowing, as something performed, rather than possessed (42).  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Richard W. Moodey, Gannon University and Allegheny College,

Moodey, Richard W. “The Fault-Line Remains: A Reply to Collins.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 9 (2016): 13-17.

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Harry Collins says: “I am completely sure you cannot understand the notion of tacit knowledge without understanding that collectivities are the location of much of it.”[1] He once used the language of naval warfare in defending his belief in the existence of “collective tacit knowledge”:

I will nail my colours to the mast of my three-way classification of tacit knowledge and am ready to go down with the ship. The three-way classification is ‘Relational Tacit Knowledge’ (RTK); ‘Somatic Tacit Knowledge’ (STK); and ‘Collective Tacit Knowledge’ (CTK).[2]

It seems clear to me that Collins is not going to change his mind about the existence of “collective tacit knowledge.”  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Chris Dragos, University of Toronto,

Dragos, Chris. “Justified Group Belief in Science.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 9 (2016): 6-12.

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Silvia Tossut (2016) offers an insightful reply to my criticism (Dragos 2016) of Rolin (2008). I first recap the debate and address two of Tossut’s objections. I then concede to a third: in Dragos (2016) I mistake Rolin’s (2008) argument as a token of a more general argument I reject in a larger project. Now properly understood as a different sort of argument, I apply a criticism offered by de Ridder (2014) to Rolin’s (2008) argument. With considerations from Wray’s (2016) reply to Dragos (2016), I close by addressing a fourth objection from Tossut.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Matthew R. X. Dentith, University of Auckland,

Dentith, Matthew R.X. “Treating Conspiracy Theories Seriously: A Reply to Basham on Dentith.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 9 (2016): 1-5.

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Conspiracy theories are—if you believe certain sources—rife, plentiful, and abounding. Despite this being a concern to some social scientists (see, for example, the recent declaration in Le Monde by Gérald Bronner, et al.[1]), the academic literature on these things we call “conspiracy theories” is still small. On the one hand, what better way to spend a week or three than in the examination of the various articles and books on the subject? But, on the other hand, the smallness of the literature reveals some peculiarities, particularly among the works of many social scientists. For example, despite “conspiracy theory” appearing to be perfectly general term (some explanatory theory concerning the existence of a conspiracy), and the apparently “curious” fact (curious in that such instances are often played down when talking about conspiracy theories) that conspiracies occur, there is already a deep-seated vein in the existing literature which says conspiracy theories are bunk, and we have a general case to be suspicious of them.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Benjamin W. McCraw, University of South Carolina Upstate,

McCraw, Benjamin W. “Combes on McCraw on the Nature of Epistemic Trust: A Rejoinder.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 8 (2016): 28-31.

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My genuine thanks to Richard Combes for continuing his thoughtful analysis of my views on epistemic trust. In this really short reply, let me offer a quick re-rejoinder to a few of his latest comments.

Combes on Trust-In and Trust-That

First, let’s get clear on Combes’ view. He claims that “one epistemically trusts S if and only if one has certain beliefs about S’s thick reliability” (2016, 8) where ‘thick reliability’ refers to the state where “one has consciously tracked S’s past history, judged that S enjoys some perhaps unique expertise, and therefore should depend on s’s testimony…” (8). That is, H trusts S just in case H believes that:

(a) H has tracked S’s history with respect to the accuracy of S’s utterances,
(b) S’s track record is reliable and
(c) H should depend on S’s future assertions.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: K. Brad Wray, State University of New York, Oswego,

Wray, K. Brad. “Collective Knowledge and Collective Justification.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 8 (2016): 24-27.

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Chris Dragos (2016) offers fresh insight into the debate about which sorts of groups in science can be properly said to have knowledge, with a focus on a debate between Kristina Rolin (2008) and K. Brad Wray (2007). As one of the participants in that debate, I would like to offer some remarks on what Dragos contributes to the debate, and where it might go from here.  Continue Reading…