Martin Kusch puts forth two controversial ideas: that knowledge is a social status and that knowledge is primarily the possession of groups rather than individuals. He defends the radical implications of his views: that knowledge is political, and that it varies with communities. This bold approach to epistemology is a challenge to philosophy and the wider academic world.
The paper begins with a detailed reconstruction of the development of Ian Hacking’s theory of scientific ‘styles of reasoning’, paying particular attention to Alistair Crombie’s influence, and suggesting that Hacking’s theory deserves to come under the title ‘historical epistemology’. Subsequently, the paper seeks to establish three critical theses. First, Hacking’s reliance on Crombie leads him to adopt an outdated historiographical position; second, Hacking is unsuccessful in his attempt to distance historical epistemology from epistemic relativism; and third, Hacking has not offered (...) convincing criteria for individuating styles of reasoning.Keywords: Styles of reasoning; Historical epistemology; Ian Hacking; Alistair Crombie; Relativism; Sociology of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
This paper seeks to defend, develop, and revise Edward Craig's “genealogy of knowledge”. The paper first develops the suggestion that Craig's project is naturally thought of as an important instance of “social cognitive ecology”. It then introduces the genealogy of knowledge and some of its main problems and weaknesses, suggesting that these are best taken as challenges for further work rather than as refutations. The central sections of the paper conduct a critical dialogue between Craig's theory and Wittgenstein's claim–familiar from (...) On Certainty–that common-sense certainties cannot be known. It turns out that Craig's distinction between different stages in the development of our concept of knowledge can illuminate and make plausible Wittgenstein's claim. But it can do so only if Craig's traditional commitment to a central “core” in our concept of knowledge is replaced with the idea of knowledge as a family-resemblance concept. (shrink)
Relativism is often motivated in terms of certain types of disagreement. In this paper, we survey the philosophical debates over two such types: faultless disagreement in the case of gustatory conflict, and fundamental disagreement in the case of epistemic conflict. Each of the two discussions makes use of a implicit conception of judgement: brute judgement in the case of faultless disagreement, and rule-governed judgement in the case of fundamental disagreement. We show that the prevalent accounts work with unreasonably high levels (...) of idealization. We defend two claims. First, philosophical discussions of disagreement need to be de-idealized. Second, once a less idealized account of disagreement is available, both our conception of judgement and our understanding of relativism need to be revised. Our example is a case study in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge: Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer’s classic Leviathan and the Air-Pump. This case study gives a less idealized account of disagreement that conceptualizes judgements as situated. We argue that this conception can and should be applied to cases of gustatory and epistemic disagreement. The payoff will be a reformulation of relativism in terms of rationally resolvable yet contingent disagreements. (shrink)
In the 1890's, when fields such as psychology and philosophy were just emerging, turf wars between the disciplines were common-place. Philosophers widely discounted the possibility that psychology's claim to empirical truth had anything relevant to offer their field. And psychologists, such as the crazed and eccentric Otto Weinegger, often considered themselves philosophers. Freud, it is held, was deeply influenced by his wife, Martha's, uncle, who was also a philosopher. The tension between the fields persisted, until the two fields eventually matured (...) and grew apart. Until the publication of Martin Kursch's masterly work Psychologism , few philosophers and psychologists have attended to their originally unhappy, turn-of-the-century engagement. Martin Kusch explores the origins of psychologism in Germany and fin de siecle Vienna by examining two major figures of twentieth century philosophy: Frege and Husserl. As one of the few serious works on Frege, Kusch trenchantly and clearly reconstructs the debate and the context in which it flourished. Psychologism will prove to be a key work of intellectual history on a subject which has largely been overlooked and, above all, understudied. (shrink)
No other recent book in Anglophone philosophy has attracted as much criticism and has found so few friends as Saul Kripke's "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language". Amongst its critics, one finds the very top of the philosophical profession. Yet, it is rightly counted amongst the books that students of philosophy, at least in the Anglo-American world, have to read at some point in their education. Enormously influential, it has given rise to debates that strike at the very heart of (...) contemporary philosophy of mind and language. In this major new interpretation, Martin Kusch defends Kripke's account against the numerous weighty objections that have been put forward over the past twenty years and argues that none of them is decisive. He shows that many critiques are based on misunderstandings of Kripke's reasoning; that many attacks can be blocked by refining and developing Kripke's position; and that many alternative proposals turn out either to be unworkable or to be disguised variants of the view they are meant to replace. Kusch argues that the apparent simplicity of Kripke's text is deceptive and that a fresh reading gives Kripke's overall argument a new strength. (shrink)
This paper tries to motivate three desiderata for historical epistemologies: (a) that they should be reflective about the pedigree of their conceptual apparatus; (b) that they must face up to the potentially relativistic consequences of their historicism; and (c) that they must not forget the hard-won lessons of microhistory (i.e. historical events must be explained causally; historical events must not be artificially divided into internal/intellectual and external/social “factors” or “levels”; and constructed series of homogenous events must not be treated as (...) quasi-organisms). Ian Hacking’s work on styles of reasoning and Lorraine Daston’s and Peter Galison’s investigation into epistemic virtues are used to identify the costs of neglecting these desiderata. (shrink)
There are a number of debates that are relevant to questions concerning objectivity in science. One of the eldest, and still one of the most intensely fought, is the debate over epistemic relativism. —All forms of epistemic relativism commit themselves to the view that it is impossible to show in a neutral, non-question-begging, way that one “epistemic system”, that is, one interconnected set of epistemic standards, is epistemically superior to others. I shall call this view “No-metajustification”. No-metajustification is commonly taken (...) to deny the objectivity of standards. In this paper I shall discuss two currently popular attempts to attack “No-metajustification”. The first attempt attacks no-metajustification by challenging a particular strategy of arguing in its defence: this strategy involves the ancient Pyrrhonian “Problem of the Criterion”. The second attempt to refute No-metajustification targets its metaphysical underpinning: to wit, the claim that there are, or could be, several fundamentally different and irreconcilable epistemic systems. I shall call this assumption “Pluralism”. I shall address three questions with respect to these attempts to refute epistemic relativism by attacking no-metajustification: Can the epistemic relativist rely on the Problem of the Criterion in support of No-metajustification? Is a combination of Chisholmian “particularism” and epistemic naturalism an effective weapon against No-metajustification? And is Pluralism a defensible assumption? (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen’s recent book Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective modifies and refines the “constructive empiricism” of The Scientific Image in a number of ways. This paper investigates the changes concerning one of the most controversial aspects of the overall position, that is, van Fraassen’s agnosticism concerning the veridicality of microscopic observation. The paper tries to make plausible that the new formulation of this agnosticism is an advance over the older rendering. The central part of this investigation is an attempt (...) to answer Marc Alspector-Kelly’s 2004-criticism of an early version of van Fraassen’s new position. Alspector-Kelly’s contribution it is to date the most extensive attack on van Fraassen’s twenty-first-century work on the topic of microscopic observation. One of the central ideas emerging from the present discussion is a link between the debate over the veridicality of microscopic observation and the issue of the theory-ladenness of experience. (shrink)
This critical notice concerns Duncan Pritchard's Epistemic Angst. After a summary of the book, I offer some brief critical comments on five issues: the distinction between overriding and undercutting strategies against scepticism, epistemic relativism, foundationalist hinge epistemology, the relationship between hinge propositions and evidence, and the universality of rational evaluation. Epistemic Angst is Duncan Pritchard's to-date most comprehensive attempt to defuse Cartesian epistemic scepticism. The argument builds on Pritchard's more than sixty previous publications on the same general topic. Given limitations (...) of space, this critical notice will nevertheless focus on Epistemic Angst alone. I shall also confine myself to a discussion of Pritchard's own position, leaving aside his criticisms of other views. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 6, Issue 2-3, pp 120 - 142 This paper aims to contribute to the debate over epistemic versus non-epistemic readings of the ‘hinges’ in Wittgenstein’s _On Certainty_. I follow Marie McGinn’s and Daniele Moyal-Sharrock’s lead in developing an analogy between mathematical sentences and certainties, and using the former as a model for the latter. However, I disagree with McGinn’s and Moyal-Sharrock’s interpretations concerning Wittgenstein’s views of both relata. I argue that mathematical sentences as well as certainties are (...) true and are propositions; that some of them can be epistemically justified; that in some senses they are not prior to empirical knowledge; that they are not ineffable; and that their primary function is epistemic as much as it is semantic. (shrink)
This paper suggests a new way of analysing testimony. The starting point of the analysis is ‘epistemological communitarianism’. This is the view that communities, rather than individuals, are the primary bearers of knowledge. The new perspective is developed through a discussion of four issues: the scope of testimony; the role of inferences in the reception and evaluation of testimony; the possibility of a global justification of testimony; and the question of whether testimony is a generative source of knowledge or a (...) mere means of transmission of already existing knowledge. The last-mentioned issue is given special prominence. It is argued that testimony is a generative source of knowledge.Author Keywords: Testimony; Communitarianism; Epistemology; Trust; Sociology of knowledge. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers have assumed that psychological knowledge is knowledge about, and held by, the individual mind. _Psychological Knowledge_ challenges these views. It argues that bodies of psychological knowledge are social institutions like money or the monarchy, and that mental states are social artefacts like coins or crowns. Martin Kusch takes on arguments of alternative proposals, shows what is wrong with them, and demonstrates how his own social-philosophical approach constitutes an advance. We see that exists a substantial natural amount of (...) philosophical theorising, a body of work that tries to determine the nature and structure of folk psychology. Examining the workings of constuctivism, _Psychological Knowledge_ is an invaluable introduction to the history of psychology and the recent philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Knowledge by Agreement defends the ideas that knowledge is a social status, and that knowledge is primarily the possession of groups rather than individuals. Part I develops a new theory of testimony. It breaks with the traditional view according to which testimony is not, except accidentally, a generative source of knowledge. One important consequence of the new theory is a rejection of attempts to globally justify trust in the words of others. Part II proposes a communitarian theory of empirical knowledge. (...) Martin Kusch argues that empirical belief can acquire the status of knowledge only by being shared with others, and that all empirical beliefs presuppose social institutions. As a result all knowledge is essentially political. Part III defends some of the controversial premises and consequences of Parts I and II: the community-dependence of normativity, epistemological and semantic relativism, anti-realism, and a social conception of objectivity. Martin Kusch's bold approach to epistemology is a challenge to philosophy and will arouse interest in the wider academic world. (shrink)
This paper consists of brief critical comments on Chapter 8, “Personifying Group Agents”, of Christian List’s and Philip Pettit’s book Group Agency (2011). A first set of objections concerns the chapter’s history of ideas. List and Pettit present the history of the idea of corporate personhood as divided between “intrinsicist” and “performative” conceptions. I argue that this distinction does not fit with the historical record and that it makes important political and legal divides and battles invisible. A second set of (...) criticisms builds on perspectives provided by the sociology of knowledge and by John Dewey. My guiding thought here is that “person”, at least when the term is applied to groups, is what political scientists call an “essentially contested concept”. My third set of comments targets the rudimentary political philosophy of List’s and Pettit’s book. I suggest that List’s and Pettit’s corporate personhood theory turns out to be normatively irrelevant; that their concept of “respect” is marred by an ambiguity; and that it remains unclear how their work constitutes progress in guarding against corporate power. (shrink)
Ian Hacking, Hacking and Latour on science studies and metaphysics: The Social Construction of What?Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-81200-X Bruno Latour, Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science StudiesHarvard University Press, ISBN0-67-465336-X.