Social Epistemology, scientific practice and the elusive social

Argumentation 8 (2):125-144 (1994)

Brian Baigrie
University of Toronto
Social Epistemology, as formulated by Steve Fuller, is based on the suggestion that rational knowledge policy must be held accountable to ‘brute facts’ about the nature of our human cognitive pursuits, whatever these may be. One difficulty for Fuller concerns the conception of the social which underwrites social epistemology. I argue that social epistemology conflates the social with human psychological properties that are available for public scrutiny and, accordingly, that social epistemology is best viewed as a brand of psychologism. Though Fuller's proposal signifies an important step in the ongoing attempt by scholars to eradicate the last traces of Descartes' epistemological device of a disembodiedres cogitans, I conclude that his conception of the social is too weak to serve as the basis for a socially-embedded discipline in anything but name only
Keywords Epistemology  sociology  scientific practice  community
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DOI 10.1007/BF00733365
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