Archives For Critical Appreciation

Critical Appreciation contributions are reflections on some of the most popular articles published in Social Epistemology.

Author Information: Matthew J. Brown, University of Texas at Dallas,

Brown, Matthew J. “A Critical Appreciation of Ronald N. Giere’s ‘Distributed Cognition without Distributed Knowing’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 6 (2015): 45-51.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink:

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Author’s Note:

    This material is partially based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1338735. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Image credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, via flickr

Ron Giere’s “Distributed Cognition without Distributed Knowing” (Giere 2007) is a relatively short but nonetheless significant paper. Giere has, since 2002, been defending the use of distributed cognition (dcog) theory as the best theoretical framework for the cognitive science of science (Giere 2002a; 2002b; 2002c; 2004; 2006a; 2006b; 2009; 2012; Giere and Moffatt 2003). In his work, he has mainly defended the dcog approach theoretically and applied it as a framework for reinterpreting existing case studies (e.g., by Knorr-Cetina and Latour). Giere’s work is a complement to the empirical work by Nancy Nersessian and her collaborators, who apply dcog in their mixed-methods empirical laboratory studies (N. J. Nersessian, Kurz-Milcke, et al. 2003; N. J. Nersessian, Newstetter, et al. 2003; Nersessian 2005; Osbeck et al. 2011).  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Julian Reiss, Durham University,; Sarah Wieten, Durham University

Reiss, Julian and Sarah Wieten. “On Justin Biddle’s ‘Lessons from the Vioxx Debacle’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 5 (2015): 20-22.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink:
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vioxx phone

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Justin Biddle’s (2007) article “Lessons from the Vioxx Debacle: What the Privatization of Science can teach us about Social Epistemology” is one of the highest regarded in this journal, with a high rate of citation. The article raised the alarm about the possible negative consequences about the increasing privatization of scientific research, and issued a call for epistemologists to attend seriously to the specific particularities of the fields they wished to characterize. This call was specifically leveled at philosophers of science such as Kitcher and Longino who, according to Biddle, were too interested in their claims being generalizable to all scientific disciplines to say anything relevant to any particular discipline. Biddle writes of their claims, Continue Reading…

Author Information: Samuel Rickless, University of California, San Diego,

Rickless, Samuel. “Critical Appreciation of Jonathan Schaffer’s The Contrast-Sensitivity of Knowledge Ascriptions’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 4 (2015): 1-6.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink:

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Editor’s Note: With Samuel Rickless’ post, we initiate our “critical appreciation” series. In this series, we ask scholars to examine Social Epistemology’s most cited articles over the last 3 years (according to statistics sourced from CrossRef). We seek both a re-appraisal and re-imagining of the articles since their publication, and a sense of where the arguments and ideas might go in the future.


Image credit: Michael J. Moeller, via flickr

Jonathan Schaffer’s 2008 article is part of a burgeoning trend, one that attempts to uncover previously unrecognized contrastive elements in a wide variety of different relations and properties (including knowledge, causation, freedom, belief, and confirmation of theory by evidence). My aim here is to provide a critical appraisal of the article, with a view to determining what it can teach us about how best to understand knowledge ascriptions, and how best to conduct research in epistemology and the philosophy of language more generally.  Continue Reading…