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…

Author Information: María G. Navarro, Spanish National Research Council,

Navarro, María G. “A Principled Standpoint: A Reply to Sandra Harding.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 8 (2016): 17-23.

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Take the strong rhetoric! This expression comes to mind as we set in order the ideas and impressions prompted by Sandra Harding’s “An Organic Logic of Research: A Response to Posey and Navarro”.

On Strong Rhetoric and Objectivity

Sandra Harding is one the leading philosophers of science on the international scene. Her work has been, and continues to be, determinant in different areas of knowledge: science policy, philosophy and history of science, sociology of scientific knowledge, social epistemology, feminism, legal theory, political theory, etc. There is no scientific discipline unaffected by the theoretical and practical impact of the methodological programme advocated by Harding. Her latest work—for some, one of the author’s most accessible to the wider public, an opinion I am happy to share—offers a magnificent opportunity to become acquainted with her thinking.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Massimo Pigliucci, City College of New York,

Pigliucci, Massimo. “How Should Feyerabend have Defended Astrology? A Further Reply to Kidd.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 8 (2016): 10-16.

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Ian Kidd (2016a) has written a compelling interpretation of Paul Feyerabend’s famous (or infamous, depending on one’s point of view) so-called defense of astrology (and homeopathy, and a number of other pseudoscientific notions). Kidd’s take is that Feyerabend is best read from a virtue epistemological standpoint, and I agreed in my response to his paper (Pigliucci 2016a), although I also pointed out two crucial objections: 1) Feyerabend, while rightly chastising (some) scientists for their epistemic arrogance, himself fell short of virtue: he did not seem to be overly bothered by the lack of integrity on display when one defends—in however qualified a manner—practices that are not only indefensible epistemically, but in some cases positively dangerous; and 2) It seems that it didn’t even cross Feyerabend’s mind that his scorched earth attitude would damage not just his own credibility (which it very clearly did, hence the periodic necessity of positive exegeses like the one proposed by Kidd), but that of his whole field of inquiry, philosophy of science.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Philip R. Olson, Virginia Tech,

Olson, Philip R. “Refining and Extending Necro-Waste.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 8 (2016): 5-9.

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I am grateful to John Troyer for the work he has done to push the study of necro-waste further than I was able in “Knowing ‘Necro-Waste’” (Olson 2016a). Identifying finer fissures within the broad category of necro-waste, Troyer organizes necro-waste into more than ten sub-categories, noting that his list of categories is “a partial and hardly exhaustive list of what those necro-waste categories could be and the kinds of waste products that each category might contain” (61). I thank Troyer, too, for expanding the discussion of necro-waste to include medical waste, which I largely ignored in my article. In this reply I will elaborate on two of Troyer’s contributions to the idea of necro-waste, each of which pushes the study of necro-waste in a different direction. First, in addition to sharing out necro-waste into a great variety of specific kinds, Troyer’s working catalogue also makes visible a greater number of categorical shifts and intersections than could my coarse distinction between waste and non-waste. Second, Troyer’s discussion of medical necro-waste draws attention to general continuities that traverse the cultural divide between health care and death care.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Steve Fuller, University of Warwick,


Editor’s Note: The piece originally appeared in the UK-based Sociological Imagination website.

Author’s Note: This piece is another one of my several articles inspired by Brexit. Here I bring together two issues that Brexit has placed in harsh juxtaposition: Cosmopolitanism as a distinct ideology—whose ‘elitism’ Peter Mandler and Ross Douthat have recently cast in an unfairly negative light—and the future of socialism as a coherent ideology.

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Image credit: John Perivolaris, via flickr

My own view is that socialism needs to be cosmopolitan. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. To be sure, forty years ago I was taught that ‘national socialism’ (i.e. Nazism) was a contradiction in terms, perhaps even a piece of cynical political rhetoric. But that was at the height of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union—and to a lesser extent China—was seen as ‘exporting’ socialism across the world to match the free market capitalism being somewhat more covertly spread by the US intelligence services. Strange as it may sound, this framing of international politics as a global ideological struggle may have been the best PR that cosmopolitanism has ever received. (Take a bow, James Bond.)  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Niki Vermeulen, University of Edinburgh,

Vermeulen, Niki. “Plant Elicitors as Bio-Objects.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 8 (2016): 1-4.

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In his article “From One Community to Many: How Novel Objects in the Crop Protection Field Reveal Epistemic Boundaries”, Antoine Blanchard (2016) presents us with an in-depth and fascinating case study on what is called a ‘plant elicitor’—a technology that is of interest due to its capacity to protect crops, which is also presented as a ‘vaccine for plants’. His analysis is underpinned using both qualitative and quantitative analysis in the form of interviews, document analysis and bibliometrics, which results in a multi-faceted picture of the relations between various communities that are working on this subject.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Millicent Churcher, The University of Sydney,

Churcher, Millicent. “Adam Smith’s Sympathetic Imagination: A Reply to Lennon.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 7 (2016): 63-68.

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In her insightful review of “When Adam Met Sally: The Transformative Potential of Sympathy”, Kathleen Lennon (2016) claims that Adam Smith’s concept of the sympathetic imagination is problematic as a resource for thinking through how to intervene in damaging social imaginaries.[1] First, Smith’s account reinforces in her view a picture of the sympathetic imagination as the means through which we access the experiences of others, which are otherwise inaccessible to us. This picture presupposes a conception of minds as ‘hidden realms,’ which she rejects (21). Second, she interprets Smithean sympathy as requiring a “shedding of one’s own positionality” in the process of understanding others’ experiences. The notion that we can somehow escape our situated standpoint when engaging with others has, she thinks, been rightly rejected by theorists such as Gadamer, Wittgenstein, and Merleau-Ponty (21).  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Adam Riggio, Independent Scholar and Writer,

Riggio, Adam. “The Pragmatic Radicalism of the Multitude’s Power: A Critical Eye on Fuller’s Return to Pareto.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 7 (2016): 54-62.

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You cannot understand Brexit with a single narrative, which means you cannot understand it with a single essay. Brexit as a social-political phenomenon includes too much for a single narrative and overall theme to comprehend. A list does the job better, even though the event rapidly makes all summaries obsolete.

There is a tendency to think of the event as an instant, a decisive moment where what is not converts to what has happened. Brexit demonstrates that events have duration—they are long and enormously complex. The event of Brexit is unfolding as we speak—this essay is part of it, as are Steve Fuller’s many essays and videos on the subject, to which my essay replies.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila Markova, Russian Academy of Science,

Markova, Lyudmila A. “A Reply to Fuller’s Prolegomena.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 7 (2016): 52-53.

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I agree with Steve Fuller that an event such as Brexit should be studied from the standpoint of philosophy and sociology. However, Fuller’s own social epistemology is quite suitable for this purpose. It seems strange that he does not use directly his own ideas for understanding current transformations in society. My own thinking comes in light of social epistemology presence in the mainstream of Russian philosophy in the last few decades. Of course, there are differences in my position and Fuller’s, but we share much in common.  Continue Reading…