Archives For Lyudmila A. Markova

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Science, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

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It is difficult to find a place for the concept of truth in social epistemology. Current philosophers disagree on the status “truth” and “objectivity” as the basis of thinking about science. Meanwhile, the very name ‘social epistemology’ speaks to a serious inevitable turn in our attitude toward scientific knowledge.  Once epistemology becomes social, scientific knowledge is oriented not to nature, but to human beings. Epistemology, then, addresses not the laws of nature, but the process of their production by a scientist. In classical epistemology we have, as a result of scientific research, laws regarding the material reality of the world created by us. Experimental results, obtained in classical science, must be objective and true, or they become useless.

In social epistemology, scientific results represent social communication among scientists (and not just among scientists), their ability to produce new knowledge, and their professionalism. In this case, knowledge helps us to create not a material artificial world, but a virtual world which is able to think. For such knowledge, notions like “truth” and “objectivity” do not play a serious role. Other concepts such as “dialog”, “communication”, “interaction”, “difference” and “diversity” come to the fore. In these concepts, we can see a turn in the development of epistemological thinking.

However, social epistemology does not destroy its predecessor. Let us remember this definition of social epistemology which Steve Fuller gives in 1988:

How should the pursuit of knowledge be organized, given that under normal circumstances knowledge is pursued by many human beings, each working on a more or less well-defined body of knowledge and each equipped with roughly the same imperfect cognitive capacities, albeit with varying degree of access to one another’s activities?

It is not difficult to see that Fuller does not consider the aim of social epistemology as obtaining objective knowledge about the external world. He remains concerned about the diversity of social conditions in which scientists work. Changes in these conditions and features of an individual scientist such as professional competence, among others, should be taken into consideration.  Exactly these characteristics of thinking that come to the fore allow us to speak about a turn in the development of thinking. Now, the problems that exist in science and society require, for their solution, a new type of thinking. Still, we can find empirical reality the foundation both for classical (modern) and non-classical (based on social epistemology) logic.

Let us take an example. You bathe every day in the river Volga. You bathe today and you come to bathe tomorrow in the same river Volga. You cannot object that the river is still the Volga. Yet, at the same time, you see numerous changes from one day to the next—ripples appearing in, and new leaves appearing on, the water’s surface, the water temperature turning slightly colder and so on. It is possible to conclude that the river, after all, is not as it was yesterday. As Heraclitus famously observed: “You cannot enter the same river twice.”

Both conclusions are right. However, notions such as truth and objectivity did not lose their logical and historical significance; rather, they became marginal. Proponents of social epistemology should establish communication with classical logic and not try to destroy it.

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila A. “Comments on Steve Fuller’s Presentation in Moscow.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2 (2015): 1-4.

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

Editor’s Note: Professor Markova refers both to Steve Fuller’s paper and presentation, “Customised Science as a Reflection of Protscience”, given at the “Social Philosophy of Science. Russian Prospects” conference in Moscow (held from November 18-20, 2014). Please refer below both to a video of Fuller’s presentation and to “Гуманитарное знание и социальные технологии”.

moscow_november_2009

Image credit: AndreyY, via flickr

Abstract

Steve Fuller raises the problem of the relation between science and society differently than many contemporary philosophers and sociologists. Unlike many philosophers, Fuller does not look for the sociality of scientific knowledge in the peculiarities of experimentation in quantum physics—the basis for a significant trend in science studies by researchers in social philosophy. At the same time, Fuller does not try to understand the social character of the birth of knowledge from the social communication of scientists in the frame of the scientific community, or from life in a scientific laboratory. Rather, Fuller aims to show science’s unique presence in society as a commodity and the absence of scientists in the birth of a new scientific knowledge This view is particularly important to understand in connection with reforms of science that politicians pursue in reference to changes taking place in society.

Steve Fuller’s primary focus on the processes taking place in society, and not solely among scientists, allows us to take a new look at a number of concepts used in analyzing science. I will consider some of them in the broader context of his paper and presentation in Moscow.[1]  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila A. “A Brief Reply to Maya Frodeman.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 9 (2014): 53-54.

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

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I would like to consider briefly three points in connection with issues raised by Maya Frodeman.

1. Academics’ approval or disapproval in transforming the knowledge production system in universities does not mean much. Certainly the majority of academics do not want such changes, but the main reason is not that they fear losing their position in the social structure of the university. Rather, a serious difficulty follows in recognizing and taking up new ideas. Many academics believe sincerely that new knowledge policies will destroy science. And they are right if science is considered by politicians, in the same way as by academics, and if the science policy does not take into consideration the changes outlined by Robert Frodeman. Philosophy offers the ability to see the current features of contemporary science that make it fundamentally different compared to classical science (which some scientists and philosophers perceive as the only possible one).  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Gregory Sandstrom, European Humanities University and Lithuanian Research Council, gregory.sandstrom@ehu.lt

Sandstrom, Gregory. “Human Satellites and Creative Extension.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 3 (2014): 60-63.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1l7

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This is a response to Lyudmila A. Markova’s engaging piece on “The Humanisation of the Surrounding World and the Technisation of Humans.” She notes at the start that “several interesting topics” (49) have recently been posted on SERRC, which she says are interdependent and which “cannot be considered without referring to the others” (49). I agree with her on this, though I would like to have (or to still see) included cybernetics and systems theory as well, even though their reputation is not always stellar in some contexts.

On the issue of human rights for animals, I guess I’m just not Singerian enough or ‘species egalitarian’ in a Darwinian sense. Markova states her position, saying “I believe that it is impossible to spread human laws into the animal world” (51). She notes that this is a disagreement with Steve Fuller’s position of extending (i.e. stretching out) rights to animals, though I’m not sure if this is the case or not. Her position is that “Human rights should not be considered desirable for all animals.” But this can be challenged if the boundaries between humans and animals disappear, or if they are re-imagined, closer for example to an Indigenous worldview where humans and animals are traditionally more symbiotic. I’d be pleased to hear more about Fuller’s current position on this, as I had thought in The New Sociological Imagination (NSI; see also Sandstrom 2008) that he had taken a stance opposed to Singer’s accusation of ‘speciesism,’ the Darwinisation and biological reductionism of some human-social thought, wherein humanity is considered as a kind of ‘endangered species.’  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Science, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila A. “The Humanisation of the Surrounding World and the Technisation of Humans.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 3 (2014): 49-52.

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

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Editor’s Note: Professor Markova’s piece appeared originally in the comments section on 10 February. Subsequently, the comments were edited and moved here.

The Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective (SERRC) recently addressed several interesting topics — often in connection with Steve Fuller’s ideas. To my mind, the most important topics are: The main features of social epistemology; A new relationship between human thinking and the surrounding world; The individual mind and its embodiment in a group; The significance of the material body (natural or artificial) for thinking; Human rights for animals; and, The Extended Mind Thesis (EMT). All these topics are interdependent, one cannot be considered without referring to the others. Their discussion has two sides, empirical and theoretical. First, let’s look at the theoretical side.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, Markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila A. 2013. “New people and a new type of communication.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (11): 47-53.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-153

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  • Fuller, Steve. 2013. “What Does It Mean to be an Intellectual Today? An Interview with Steve Fuller by Filip Šimetin Šegvić.” Social Epismtemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (10): 12-17. 6 September. http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-Zf

Editor’s Note: Markova’s comment, posted originally on 7 October, accompanied Šegvić’s interview with Fuller. Subsequently, the comment was edited and posted here.

Steve Fuller considers the important topic of the origin of a new type of people. He calls them intellectuals, not wanting, apparently, to deviate too much from the terminology used to refer to people of intellectual labor. Fuller (2013, 12) gives the following definition:

An intellectual is someone who makes a living out of the production and distribution of ideas. The focus on ‘ideas’ is quite important because it means that the intellectual must be adept at communicating in a variety of media — e.g. not simply academic texts — through which ideas may be conveyed.

Intellectuals act as, what Fuller calls, ‘agents of distributive justice’. He means that if scientific knowledge is considered as free from any human characteristics, its distributive version “sets up the intellectual as an anti-academic figure who assumes that any complex conception worth conveying can be done effectively in the popular media” (12). Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila A. 2013.”The Beginning in Science and Humanity.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (10): 4-6.

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

Please refer to: Fuller, Steve. 2013. “World Enough and Time.” Review of Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe, by Lee Smolin. Social Epismteology Review and Reply Collective 2 (7): 12-13

The problem of the relationship between science and humanity has resurfaced recently. What could be the reason? One reason could be the interest of researchers in the role of creative processes in the emergence, or beginning, of scientific knowledge. Looking at the beginning of science, you may observe the shifting of the object of study from the results to the process of how the results are obtained.

Revolution and Evolution in the History of Science

Steve Fuller expresses interest in Lee Smolin’s book Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe, in part, to address the problem of time. Fuller addresses time in his own work often in connection with Darwinism, with evolutionary theory and natural selection. Evolution and revolution — the main problem of historians, philosophers and sociologists since the middle of the 20th century! You may recall that for Alexandre Koyré the history of science was quite different than for Pierre Duhem. For Koyré, revolution was the main feature the history of science. For Duhem, evolution was much more important for understanding the history of science. Hence, we see different interpretations of the scientific revolution of the 17th century. Koyré considered it as the beginning of a quite new science. Duhem tried to find in the past something close to any novelty received in the course of revolution and to demonstrate the impossibility of obtaining a result that would not be available already in one form or another in science of the previous period. The beginning of science was the main point of the discussion between these explorers of science history. Koyré saw it in this concrete place and time, in the revolution of the 17th century. Duhem removed the beginning to the past, as far as it was possible. His logic permitted him to do this on to infinity. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Lyudmila A. Markova, Russian Academy of Sciences, Markova.lyudmila2013@yandex.ru

Markova, Lyudmila A. 2013.”Context and Naturalism in Social Epistemology.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (9): 33-35.

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

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Two notions, context and naturalism, are the subjects of analysis of both Ilya Kasavin (“Reply to Rockmore”, 2013) and Tom Rockmore (“Kasavin on Social Epistemology and Naturalism: A Critical Reply”, 2013). I agree with many of Kasavin and Rockmore’s points — especially with those that concern the difficulties in the classical (traditional) epistemology.

Context

Rockmore writes (2013):

I agree with Kasavin that context is indeed problematic. Yet I would like to resist the effort either to free cognitive claims from context or, on the contrary, to absorb the former into the latter. … The proper relationship seems to me to be a kind of constitutive tension that can never be overcome and which must be construed not in general but rather on a case-by-case basis in order to understand the weight of the particular cognitive claim (11).

Kasavin (2013) refines his understanding: “… [T]he context of science is the whole scope of its current sociality and its cultural history — a kind of independent reality accompanying science during its temporal existence” (26). “… [T]he quantity of alternatives is limited at a given moment” (28). Continue Reading…