Karyn L. Freedman
University of Guelph
In this paper I argue that the Strong Programme’s aim to provide robust explanations of belief acquisition is limited by its commitment to the symmetry principle. For Bloor and Barnes, the symmetry principle is intended to drive home the fact that epistemic norms are socially constituted. My argument here is that even if our epistemic standards are fully naturalized—even relativized—they nevertheless can play a pivotal role in why individuals adopt the beliefs that they do. Indeed, sometimes the fact that a belief is locally endorsed as rational is the only reason why an individual holds it. In this way, norms of rationality have a powerful and unique role in belief formation. But if this is true then the symmetry principle’s emphasis on ‘sameness of type’ is misguided. It has the undesirable effect of not just naturalizing our cognitive commitments, but trivializing them. Indeed, if the notion of ‘similarity’ is to have any content, then we are not going to classify as ‘the same’ beliefs that are formed in accordance with deeply entrenched epistemic norms as ones formed without reflection on these norms, or ones formed in spite of these norms. My suggestion here is that we give up the symmetry principle in favor of a more sophisticated principle, one that allows for a taxonomy of causes rich enough to allow us to delineate the unique impact epistemic norms have on those individuals who subscribe to them.Keywords: Strong Programme; Naturalism; Epistemology; David Bloor; Barry Barnes.
Keywords Strong Programme  epistemic naturalism
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2004.12.007
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References found in this work BETA

The Naturalists Return.Philip Kitcher - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (1):53-114.
What is "Naturalized Epistemology?".Jaegwon Kim - 1988 - Philosophical Perspectives 2:381-405.
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