Kathryn Plaisance
University of Waterloo
Philosophers of science are increasingly arguing for and addressing the need to do work that is socially and scientifically engaged. However, we currently lack well-developed frameworks for thinking about how we should engage other expert communities and what the epistemic benefits are of doing so. In this paper, I draw on Collins and Evans' concept of ‘interactional expertise’ – the ability to speak the language of a discipline in the absence of an ability to practice – to consider the epistemic benefits that can arise when philosophers engage scientific communities. As Collins and Evans argue, becoming an interactional expert requires that one ‘hang out’ with members of the relevant expert community in order to learn crucial tacit knowledge needed to speak the language. Building on this work, I argue that acquiring interactional expertise not only leads to linguistic fluency, but it also confers several ‘socio-epistemic’ benefits such as the opportunity to cultivate trust with scientific communities. These benefits can improve philosophical work and facilitate the broader uptake of philosophers' ideas, enabling philosophers to meet a variety of epistemic goals. As a result, having at least some philosophers of science acquire interactional expertise via engagement will likely enhance the diversity of epistemic capacities for philosophy of science as a whole. For some philosophers of science, moreover, the socio-epistemic benefits identified here may be more important than the ability to speak the language of a discipline, suggesting the need for a broader analysis of interactional expertise, which this paper also advances.
Keywords Engaged philosophy of science  Interactional expertise  Immersion  Engagement  Uptake  Epistemic capacity
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2020.03.002
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