social epistemology

In Stathis Psillos & Martin Curd (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge (2013)
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Abstract

Social epistemology is a wide-ranging field of study concerned with investigating how various social factors, practices, and institutions affect our prospects of gaining and spreading knowledge. Philosophers working in social epistemology have focused on a range of topics, including trust and testimony, the effects of social location on knowing, and whether or not groups of people can have knowledge that is not reducible to the knowledge of the individual members of the group. Much of the work in social epistemology is not concerned specifically with science and scientists but, rather, with knowing agents in general. This chapter will be concerned narrowly with the social epistemology of scientific knowledge. After a brief discussion of Thomas Kuhn's contribution to the social epistemology of science, the chapter addresses the following issues: the ideal epistemic community; collaboration and trust; social values and bias; and science policy and expertise. The chapter ends with a brief discussion of methodology in the social epistemology of science.

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K. Brad Wray
Aarhus University

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