Graduate studies at Western
Episteme 7 (1):79-99 (2010)
|Abstract||The present paper argues for the relevance of Immanuel Kant and the German Enlightenment to contemporary social epistemology. Rather than distancing themselves from the alleged ‘individualism’ of Enlightenment philosophers, social epistemologists would be well-advised to look at the substantive discussion of social-epistemological questions in the works of Kant and other Enlightenment figures. After a brief rebuttal of the received view of the Enlightenment as an intrinsically individualist enterprise, this paper charts the historical trajectory of philosophical discussions of testimony as a source of knowledge, via such philosophers as C. Thomasius, C. A. Crusius, J. M. Chladenius, G. F. Meier, and finally Kant. Building on recent work on Kant's epistemology of testimony, the paper considers Kant's broader contributions to social epistemology. This includes an analysis of Kant's comments on the social basis of contingent epistemic standards, e.g. in the sciences, as well as on problems arising from the management of what Kant calls the growing ‘volume of knowledge’. Special attention is paid to the relation between Kant's views and contemporary problems arising both in the context of education and from our increased reliance on scientific experts|
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