Realism, reliabilism, and the 'strong programme' in the sociology of scientific knowledge

In this essay, I respond to Tim Lewens's proposal that realists and Strong Programme theorists can find common ground in reliabilism. I agree with Lewens, but point to difficulties in his argument. Chief among these is his assumption that reliabilism is incompatible with the Strong Programme's principle of symmetry. I argue that the two are, in fact, compatible, and that Lewens misses this fact because he wrongly supposes that reliabilism entails naturalism. The Strong Programme can fully accommodate a reliabilism which has been freed from its inessential ties to naturalism. Unlike naturalistic epistemologists, the Strong Programme's sociologistic reliabilist insists that all scientific facts are the product of both natural and social causal phenomena. Anticipating objections, I draw on Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations to explain how the sociologistic reliabilist can account for standard intuitions about the objective elements of knowledge. I also explain how the Strong Programme theorist can distinguish between a belief's seeming reliable and its being reliable. Ich setzte den Fu in die Luft, und sie trug. (Hilde Domin).
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DOI 10.1080/02698590802280878
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Jeff Kochan (2015). Objective Styles in Northern Field Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 52:1-12.
Jeff Kochan (2011). Getting Real with Rouse and Heidegger. Perspectives on Science 19 (1):81-115.
Colin Howson (2009). Sorites is No Threat to Modus Ponens: A Reply to Kochan. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):209-212.
Jeff Kochan (2009). The Exception Makes the Rule: Reply to Howson. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):213-216.

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