I would like to thank Renia Gasparatou, Philip Goff, and Andreas Vrahimis for contributing to the book symposium on For and Against Scientism: Science, Methodology, and the Future of Philosophy (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2022). I am grateful to James Collier for hosting this book symposium on the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. In what follows, I will reply to Gasparatou and Vrahimis’s contributions to this book symposium.1 Before I do so, I will summarize what I take to be (...) their main arguments against my conception of scientism. Briefly, my conception of scientism runs along the weak and broad lines of epistemological scientism (Mizrahi 2022a, 12). More specifically, Weak Scientism is the view that scientific knowledge is the best knowledge (or some other epistemic good, such as justified belief) we have. Weak Scientism is a weaker version of epistemological scientism than Strong Scientism, which is the view that scientific knowledge is the only knowledge we have. According to Weak Scientism, while non-scientific disciplines do produce knowledge, scientific disciplines produce knowledge that is superior—both quantitatively (in terms of research output and research impact) and qualitatively (in terms of explanatory, predictive, and instrumental success)—to non-scientific knowledge (Mizrahi 2017, 354; 2022a, 6–7; 2023, 41). (shrink)
In “The Applied Epistemology of Official Stories” (2023), Tim Hayward offers a thorough and convincing rejection of Neil Levy’s claim that we ought to defer to official stories from relevant epistemic authorities. In this response, I take no issue with Hayward’s criticism of Levy. Rather, I suggest that Hayward’s position could go further, and he already implies a deeper problem with the concept of an ‘official story’. In fact, I’m so swayed by several of his claims against things called ‘official (...) stories’, that, in this essay, I investigate the feasibility of a generalist position towards ‘official stories’. (shrink)
In “Regulating social media as a public good: Limiting epistemic segregation” (2022), Toby Handfield tackles a well-known problematic aspect of widespread social media use: the formation of ideologically monotone and insulated social networks. Handfield argues that we can take some cues from economics to reduce the extent to which echo chambers grow up around individual users. Specifically, he argues that tax incentives to encourage network heterophily may be levied at any of three different groups: individual social media users, social media (...) sites/companies, or advertisers who use social media to promote their products and material. In this response, I examine the plausibility of using such incentives on each of the these groups. I argue, first, that using tax incentives on either (1) social media companies or (2) advertisers would be ineffective as these incentives could not feasibly be made strong enough to override the enormous financial gain of the standard social media algorithms. Next, I argue that levying the incentives/penalties on individual users would be a hazard, due to the risk of what is called the epistemic “backfire effect”. Finally, I argue that the problem lies in relying on incentives and disincentives—rather than direct regulation—to increase network heterophily. (shrink)
Lacey J. Davidson (2023) raises several insightful objections to the group partiality account of wokeness. The paper aims to move the discussion forward by either responding to or developing Davidson’s objections. My goal is not to show that the partiality account is foolproof but to think about the direction of future discussion—future critique, modification, and response. Davidson thinks that the partiality account of wokeness does not sufficiently define wokeness, as the paper sets out to do. Davidson also alleges that the (...) account appropriates the term from minority communities. (shrink)
Mizrahi (2017a) advances an argument in support of Weak Scientism, which is the view that scientific knowledge is the best (but not the only) knowledge we have, according to which Weak Scientism follows from the premises that scientific knowledge is quantitatively and qualitatively better than non-scientific knowledge. In this paper, I develop a different argument for Weak Scientism. This latter argument for Weak Scientism proceeds from the premise that academic disciplines that make progress are superior to academic disciplines that do (...) not make progress. In other words, other things being equal, it is generally better for an academic discipline to make progress than to make little or no progress, given that an academic discipline that is making little or no progress is an academic discipline that is failing to achieve its epistemic goals. Now, if there is no question among academic philosophers that science makes progress, and significantly so, but there is an open question among academic philosophers as to whether academic philosophy makes progress (and if so, how much), then academic philosophers would have to agree that science is superior to academic philosophy in terms of making progress. I develop this argument in this paper and provide empirical evidence suggesting that the premises would be acceptable to academic philosophers. (shrink)
At the heart of Mizrahi’s project lies a sociological narrative concerning the recent history of philosophers’ negative attitudes towards scientism. Critics (e.g. de Ridder (2019), Wilson (2019) and Bryant (2020)), have detected various empirical inadequacies in Mizrahi’s methodology for discussing these attitudes. Bryant (2020) points out one of the main pertinent methodological deficiencies here, namely that the mere appearance of the word ‘scientism’ in a text does not suffice in determining whether the author feels threatened by it. Not all philosophers (...) use the term in ‘inherently negative’ (29) or pejorative ways. In this paper, I not only corroborate Bryant’s critical claim, but argue that Mizrahi’s response to this part of Bryant’s objection is inadequate. (shrink)
It’s intuitive to think that (a) the more sure you are of something, the harder it’ll be to change your mind about it, and (b) you can’t be open-minded about something if you’re very sure about it. If these thoughts are right, then, with minimal assumptions, it follows that you can’t be in a good position to both escape echo chambers and be rationally resistant to fake news: the former requires open-mindedness, but the latter is inimical to it. I argue (...) that neither thought is true and that believing them will get us all mixed up. I show that you can be open-minded and have confidently held beliefs, and that beliefs in which you are less sure are not, thereby, more fragile. I close with some reflections on the nature of rational belief change and open-mindedness and a brief sketch about what might actually help us in the fight against misinformation and belief polarization …. [please read below the rest of the article]. (shrink)
Gary Bartlett (2022) provides critical reflections on my account of hermeneutical injustice experienced by child victims of abuse (Lo 2022). He argues that professionals cannot be said to have all the relevant concepts of abuse as child victims have unique access to the emotional and subjective aspects of that experience. He thus cautions against remedying the hermeneutical injustice by having institutions replace folk concepts with institutional concepts. Bartlett further reflects on the hermeneutical marginalisation of children and questions to what extent (...) does that constitute hermeneutical injustice against children generally. This article seeks to respond to these points raised by Bartlett. (shrink)
The extreme incidence and prevalence of rage-driven aggression and destructiveness in the United States is without parallel in any other industrialized country in the world. During 2022 alone, there were 647 mass shootings in the U.S. (in each, at least four victims were killed). Unfortunately these many killings comprise only one form of widespread rage in America. This paper seeks to answer why this is happening.
Jesper Kallestrup has provided an insightful response to our paper, “Epistemic Structure in Non-Summative Social Knowledge”. Kallestrup identifies some important issues pertaining to our non-summative, non-supervenient account of group knowledge which we did not address in our original paper. Here, we develop our view further in light of Kallestrup’s helpful reply.