Archives For William T. Lynch

Author Information: Steve Fuller, University of Warwick, S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2YQ

Editor’s Note: The SERRC thanks Symposion for permitting us to repost Steve Fuller’s reply to Bill Lynch’s review essay.

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Image credit: Aaron, via flickr

Let me start by saying that despite the strong critique that Bill Lynch lodges against the world-view developed in Knowledge: The Philosophical Quest in History.[1] I must credit him with having set out at the start of his essay an admirably comprehensive overview of my intellectual trajectory, including a keen sense of the spirit which has animated it, as well as some of its key twists and turns. I am painfully aware that though I remain very much an engaged and productive thinker, most readers appear to encounter my work like isolated ruins of a lost civilization. The reason may be, as Lynch correctly notes, that I am drawn to bring together sensibilities that are normally seen to be at odds with one another. For this reason, I have always seen Hegel as a model for what a good philosopher should be—someone very much immersed in the differences of his time yet at the same time trying to transcend them by finding a place in the imaginary future (or “The Mind of God”) where they are each given their due.  Continue Reading…

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

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2Ze

Editor’s Note: The SERRC thanks Symposion for permitting us to repost Bill Lynch’s essay. Steve Fuller offers a reply.

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Image credit: Routledge

Knowledge: The Philosophical Quest in History
Steve Fuller
Routledge, 2015
304 pp.

Steve Fuller burst onto the academic scene with his provocative synthesis of opposites in Social Epistemology in 1988, which brought together constructivist sociology of science with normative philosophy of science, not to mention analytical and continental philosophy.[1] Defining social epistemology in the book under review as “the normative study of knowledge as a product of social organization,” Fuller can be credited with virtually bringing an entirely new field into existence, founding a journal also called Social Epistemology, which pushed views together that were unpopular in their home fields.[2] Normative philosophy of science was not to be focused on individual knowers and their relationship to an external reality, but should engage in a kind of social and political philosophy of science focused on knowledge’s social organization and its attendant tradeoffs of costs and benefits. Constructivist work in Science and Technology Studies (STS) was not to be focused on case studies emphasizing that science cannot be wrenched from its social context, but should contribute grounds for remaking the knowledge enterprise in ways responsive to our collective input.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Peter Taylor, University of Massachusetts Boston, peter.taylor@umb.edu

Taylor, Peter. “Not Throwing Up My ‘hand in defeat … or reduc[ing] everything to contextual complexity’: A Short Response to Lynch’s Counter-Criticisms.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 4 (2016): 65-66.

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

Please refer to:

Loch Tay

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Bill Lynch is clearly more accepting of using the explanatory form of natural selection for evolution than I am.[1] He wants, moreover, to discourage readers from exploring my account of Darwin, from which my criticisms flow, by claiming that these criticisms play into the hands of intelligent design exponents,[2] fall into the STS temptation of blowing up all explanations,[3] and “conflate … the issue of whether a proposed explanation can explain a particular phenomenon and whether we can know it to be true given the limited tools at our disposal.”[4]  Continue Reading…

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

Lynch, William T. “Complexity, Natural Selection, and Cultural Evolution.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 3 (2016): 64-72.

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

Please refer to:

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Image credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões, via flickr

Peter Taylor begins his reply to me by objecting to Steve Fuller’s intelligent design-based critique of the intelligibility of science—which is the object of my criticism.[1] He argues that Fuller’s own point of view does not make sense and that intelligent design should lead one to lack motivation to study nature since God can just change the rules at any point. That, of course, depends upon what God is taken to choose to do. In any event, I certainly cannot be expected to make a case for Fuller’s argument that is stronger than the one he presents.  Continue Reading…

Author Information:Peter J. Taylor, University of Massachusetts Boston, peter.taylor@umb.edu

Taylor, Peter J. “Questioning the Darwinism that Lynch Presents as a Viable Basis for Humans to Pursue Science.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 2 (2016): 85-87.

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

Please refer to:

darwinism

Image credit: Evan Lavine, via flickr

Bill Lynch was a student and colleague of Steve Fuller in sociology and philosophy of science, co-editing a volume with him (and Thomas Brante) on scientific controversies in 1993. His appreciation of Fuller’s thinking led him to write a wonderfully informative review of Fuller’s interpretation of the origins and impact of Kuhn’s extremely influential writing on the dynamics of science (Lynch 2003). Lynch’s current contribution takes on a more recent book by Fuller (2008) in support of intelligent design, which, in brief (based on Lynch’s account), sees purposeful design of the natural world as necessary for humans to be motivated to seek knowledge in the systematic manner of science. (Social epistemology becomes theistic epistemology?) This effort is not so compelling to me.  Continue Reading…

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…