The very idea of social epistemology: What prospects for a truly radical 'radically naturalized epistemology'?
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Inquiry 34 (3 & 4):377 – 389 (1991)
Steve Fuller's social epistemology aims to integrate the philosophy of science and sociology of science, and to enhance the ability of these disciplines to contribute to science policy. While applauding the re?vitalizing energy of the enterprise, a sociological perspective requires attention to four key aspects of the programme. First, the character of interdisciplinarity requires careful specification, lest the critical dynamic of social studies of science be compromised by calls to pluralism. Second, social epistemology can and should transcend the traditional epistemological attribution of positions ('positionism') to protagonists. Third, the argumentative dynamic of social studies of science, which enables the successive reconceptualization of ?epistemic? matters, suggests some problems for social epistemology's use of ?sociological results?. Finally, social epistemology requires a more sociologically informed understanding of what in practice counts as normative research, since the current programme trades upon unexamined conceptions of policy audience
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