Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Social epistemology is an expanding sector of epistemology. There are many directions of expansion, however, and the rationales for them may vary. To illustrate the scope of social epistemology, consider the following topics that have occupied either whole issues or single articles in Episteme, A Journal of Social Epistemology: (1) testimony, (2) peer disagreement, (3) epistemic relativism, (4) epistemic approaches to democracy, (5) evidence in the law, (6) the epistemology of mass collaboration (e.g., Wikipedia), and (7) judgment aggregation. How can social epistemology (SE) be characterized so that all of these topics fit under its umbrella? Why does each topic qualify as epistemology and in what respects is it social? This paper begins by proposing a tripartite division of SE. Under this classification scheme the first variety of SE is highly continuous with traditional epistemology, whereas the second and third varieties diverge from the tradition to a lesser or greater extent. The divergences are not so great, however, as to disqualify their inclusion under the social epistemology heading. After explaining the proposed classification, the paper examines in greater depth the third variety of SE, systems-oriented SE, which is the least familiar and most adventurous form of SE.|
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