Epistemology and the sociology of knowledge

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 24 (3):267-290 (1994)


Epistemology, I will argue, is of crucial importance to the sociology of knowledge— not just by way of definition of the phenomenon under study, but also because approaches to the sociology of knowledge rely on too-often implicit epistemological stances. I will make this argument through a series of categorizations: first, I will classify the field of epistemology into its three main forms; second, I will classify the sociology of knowledge into epistemological categories; third, I will classify the sociology of science into these same categories. All the while, I will be making an argument for an empirical epistemology and "agnostic" studies of knowledge. This article does not cover the field of epistemology exhaustively, but tries to offer an orderly overview of classic positions for the benefit of social scientists.

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