Social Epistemology: Essential Readings

Social Epistemology: Essential Readings

Social Epistemology: Essential Readings

Social Epistemology: Essential Readings

Synopsis

What if anything justifies us in believing the testimony of others? How should we react to disagreement between ourselves and our peers, and to disagreement among the experts when we ourselves are novices? Can beliefs be held by groups of people in addition to the people composing those groups? And if so, how should groups go about forming their beliefs? How should we design social systems, such as legal juries and scientific research-sharing schemes, to promote knowledge among the people who engage in them? When different groups of people judge different beliefs to be justified, how can we tell which groups are correct? These questions are at the heart of the vital discipline of social epistemology. The classic articles in this volume address these questions in ways that are both cutting-edge and easy to understand. This volume will be of great interest to scholars and students in epistemology.

Excerpt

Epistemology is social in a number of ways, and it has been so for a long time, at least since Plato. In recent years, the social aspects of epistemology have been the subject of increasing (and increasingly sophisticated) philosophical attention. Social epistemology is a blooming discipline, full of exciting work on topics old and new. This book brings some central parts of this work together in one place, making them accessible to students and researchers alike. We have collected work under five headings: conceptions of social epistemology, trust in testimony and experts, reasonable peer disagreement, judgment aggregation, and socialsystem design.

Part I represents three approaches to social epistemology. In chapter 1, Alvin Goldman provides an overview of social epistemology that divides it into three categories. The first category, “individual doxastic agent social epistemology,” concerns individual belief-forming agents and how they should respond to social sources of evidence, such as evidence from the testimony of others. The second category, “collective doxastic agent social epistemology,” concerns collective belief-forming agents, such as juries and committees, which are themselves constituted by other agents. How should these collective agents go about forming their beliefs? The third category, “systems-oriented social epistemology,” concerns entire social systems such as legal adjudication systems and systems of peer review for academic research. Systems-oriented social epistemology evaluates these systems epistemically in terms of how they influence their members’ beliefs. This tripartite classification of social epistemology is reflected in the structure of the current volume (beginning with part II). Individual social epistemology is represented by parts II and III, collective social epistemology by part IV, and systems-oriented social epistemology by part V. Thus, chapter 1 serves as an organizing piece for (most of) the volume as a whole.

In chapter 2, Paul Boghossian considers the problem of epistemic relativism as it arises in social systems. Different communities seem to have different “epistemic systems”—that is, different systems of rules or principles about the conditions under which belief is justified. One system of rules . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.