Archives For Pre-Prints

Pre-Prints are early postings of articles to be published in Social Epistemology.

Author Information: William T. Lynch, Wayne State University, William.Lynch@wayne.edu

Lynch, William T. “Darwinian Social Epistemology: Science and Religion as Evolutionary Byproducts Subject to Cultural Evolution.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 2 (2016): 26-68.

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

Dawn

Image credit: Susanne Nilsson, via flickr

Abstract

Key to Steve Fuller’s recent defense of intelligent design is the claim that it alone can explain why science is even possible. By contrast, Fuller argues that Darwinian evolutionary theory posits a purposeless universe which leaves humans with no motivation to study science and no basis for modifying an underlying reality. I argue that this view represents a retreat from insights about knowledge within Fuller’s own program of social epistemology. I show that a Darwinian picture of science, as also of religion, can be constructed that explains how these complex social institutions emerged out of a process of biological and cultural evolution. Science and religion repurpose aspects of our evolutionary inheritance to the new circumstances of more complex societies that have emerged since the Neolithic revolution.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Masudul Alam Choudhury, University of Toronto and International Islamic University, masudc60@yahoo.ca

Choudhury, Masudul Alam. “Islamic Political Economy: An Epistemological Approach.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 53-103.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1IR

Abstract

The budding field of Islamic political economy as premised on the epistemological roots of the monotheistic law and explained by the Qur’an and the sunnah (teachings of the Prophet Muhammad) is expounded. Several mainstream economic ideas are critically examined and their alternative treatment under Islamic political economy is expounded. The process-oriented model termed in this paper as the shuratic process or the discursively interactive, integrative and evolutionary process (IIE-learning process) is shown to be central to the methodology of the circular causation and continuity model of unified reality in Islamic political economy. Several concepts and applications are invoked in the methodological study of Islamic political economy. These involve a futuristic model of Arab political economy and the emergence of modern Turkish historicism a la Ibn Khaldun, by the Islamic contrariness to Eurocentricity. In order to bring out the widest conception and application of the methodology of Islamic political economy we examine the diverse problem of labour market wellbeing understood as labour market adaptation of Canadian Natives. This exam uses the methodology of Islamic political economy and shows its application to a contemporaneous real world issue. There is also a good deal of comparative study between Islam and the Occident concerning epistemological issues of the monotheistic law founded on the methodology of political economy. Such diverse applications bring out the extension of the field of Islamic political economy. Religious encumbrance are avoided and replaced by an epistemological worldview. Such a comprehensive study of Islamic political economy brings out a new and overarching economic, social, and scientific methodology that is extended to a field of intellectual inquiry beyond sheer religious outlook.

This paper was presented in the Seventeenth International Economic Association, Dead Sea, Jordan. July, 2014.

Political Economy and the Moral, Ethical, Cultural and Religions Groundwork

Every scientific treatment of great ideas emerges from epistemological foundations. This is true both of the natural and social sciences. Within both of these areas is embedded a methodology similar to that of political economy. This inclusive field comprises the methodological study of conflict and conflict resolution. In this regard, Smith’s idea of an economy and society governed by the law of natural liberty was a manifestation of the broad epistemological groundwork of a moral and scientific treatment (Smith, 1984). Yet in his Wealth of Nations the natural law of liberty gave rise to economic conflicts and the market system was treated as the resolver of the conflicts. Likewise, the French Physiocracy as the original school of political economy invoked the religious postulates of the just law within the framework of the monotheistic law. Quesnay and Turgot referred to the just law as jus divinumContinue Reading…

Author Information: Tommaso Castellani, Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies, t.castellani@irpps.cnr.it ; Emanuele Pontecorvo, Physics Department, Sapienza University of Rome; Adriana Valente, Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies, National Research Council of Italy, adriana.valente@cnr.it

Castellani, Tommaso, Emanuele Pontecorvo and Adriana Valente. “Epistemological Consequences of Bibliometrics: Insights from the Scientific Community.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 1-20.

This research has been supported by the ScienceOnTheNet project of the Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1GH

2890933648_8e232deaa9_z Image Credit: SamahR, via flickr

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to investigate the consequences of the bibliometrics-based system of evaluation of scientific production on the contents and methods of sciences. The research has been conducted by means of in-depth interviews to a multi-disciplinary panel of Italian researchers. We discuss the implications of bibliometrics on the choice of the research topic, on the experimental practices, on the publication habits. We observe that the validation of the bibliometric practices relies on the acceptance and diffusion within the scientific community, and that these practices are self-sustained through their wide application. We discuss possible evolving scenarios, also considering the recent development of digital archives.

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Author Information: Justin O. Parkhurst, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, justin.parkhurst@lshtm.ac.uk ; Sudeepa Abeysinghe, University of Edinburgh, Sudeepa.Abeysinge@ed.ac.uk

Parkhurst, Justin O and Sudeepa Abeysinghe. “What Constitutes ‘Good’ Evidence for Public Health and Social Policy Making? From Hierarchies to Appropriateness.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no 10 (2014): 40-52.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1E3

Abstract

Within public health, and increasingly other areas of social policy, there are widespread calls to increase or improve the use of evidence for policy making. Often these calls rest on an assumption that increased evidence utilisation will be a more efficient or effective means of achieving social goals. Yet a clear elucidation of what can be considered ‘good evidence’ for policy is rarely articulated. Many of the current discussions of best practice in the health policy sector derive from the evidence-based medicine (EBM) movement, embracing the ‘hierarchy of evidence’ that places experimental trials as preeminent in terms of methodological quality. However, a number of problems arise if these hierarchies are used to rank or prioritise policy relevance. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Richard W. Moodey, Gannon University, moodey001@gannon.edu

Moodey, Richard W. “Models of Face-to-Face Interaction and the Epistemic Significance of Other Minds.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 7 (2014): 19-28.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1wo

Please refer to:

Steve Fuller attacked ‘analytic social epistemology’ in 2012, and in 2013 Sanford Goldberg counter-attacked. Goldberg also prescribes a way of moving beyond the kind of conflicts exemplified by his exchange with Fuller. He says that social epistemologists should study the epistemic significance of other minds. I argue that constructing models of face-to-face interaction, specifically, models of cooperation, competition, and conflict, can be useful in implementing Goldberg’s prescription. Such models can help generate the propositions that must be the result of systematic study of a topic. I modify Goldberg’s image of epistemic communities as a result of including competition and conflict, as well as cooperation among the members.

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Author Information: Alexandra Hofmänner, University of Basel, alexandra.hofmaenner-at-unibas.ch

Hofmänner, Alexandra. 2014. “Science Studies Elsewhere: The Experimental Life and the Other Within.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3 (3): 1-26.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1iI

This study is concerned with current images of Science Studies travelling to places outside Western Europe and North America. These images focus on the movement of Science Studies’ formative concepts and ideas. They eclipse other formative aspects specific to the context in which this field was established. For example, Science Studies has analysed science within the conceptual architecture of modernity. Michel-Rolph Trouillot has claimed that modernity requires an alterity—a constitutive Otherness. Expanding on his work, this paper hypothesises that modern science requires an alterity against which its knowledge claims attain their full meaning. To test this hypothesis, Trouillot’s concept of alterity (‘Elsewhere’) is applied to Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer’s paradigmatic book Leviathan and the Air-Pump. The analysis confirms that the philosophical programmes of Robert Boyle and Thomas Hobbes required a relation to Otherness. The ‘New World’, ‘savages’ and ‘inferior creatures’ figured as oppositional referents for casting and legitimising their knowledge claims. This paper further argues that Shapin and Schaffer also required the residual category of the ‘ignorant stranger’ as a crucial referent to frame their symmetrical historical approach to experiment. A Programme in Science Studies Elsewhere is proposed in relation to David Bloor’s Strong Programme in the Sociology of Knowledge. This paper concludes that mainstream Science Studies constructs this field’s Western European and North American history and identity by relegating the Rest of Science Studies scholarship to Dipesh Chakrabarty’s imaginary waiting room of history. No matter how well the Rest assimilates or transforms Science Studies’ formative concepts and ideas, it is bound to remain waiting as long as this room, Elsewhere, remains overlooked.

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Author Information: J. Britt Holbrook, Britt.Holbrook@unt.edu, and Adam Briggle, Adam.Briggle@unt.edu, University of North Texas

Holbrook, J. Britt and Adam Briggle. 2013. “Knowing and acting: The precautionary and proactionary principles in relation to policy making.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (5): 15-37.

The PDF of the pre-print gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-KQ


This essay explores the relationship between knowledge (in the form of scientific risk assessment) and action (in the form of technological innovation) as they come together in policy, which itself is both a kind of knowing and acting. It first illustrates the dilemma of timely action in the face of uncertain unintended consequences. It then introduces the precautionary and proactionary principles as different alignments of knowledge and action within the policymaking process. The essay next considers a cynical and a hopeful reading of the role of these principles in public policy debates. We argue that the two principles, despite initial appearances, are not all that different when it comes to formulating public policy. We also suggest that principles in general can be used either to guide our actions, or to determine them for us. We argue that allowing principles to predetermine our actions undermines the sense of autonomy necessary for true action.

Keywords: Precautionary Principle; Proactionary Principle; Policy; Decision Procedure

Knowledge kills action. (Nietzsche)[1]

1. Knowing and acting

How are knowledge and action related? This question is asked less often than another: When do we know enough to justify taking action? In the context of making science and technology policy, the question assumes yet a different form: When do we have sufficient scientific risk assessments about a new technological activity to warrant promoting that activity and embedding it in society? In this paper, we explore how the relation between knowledge and action should be structured in policymaking. Continue Reading…