Social Epistemology Workshop

Department of Philosophy, Bristol 18th May


Location:  Room G2 Cotham House, University of Bristol (note – you can’t enter from Cotham hill, so come via the route below).

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Accessibility information for the venue

9.30-10.45 Josh Habgood-Coote (Bristol)

What’s the point of authorship?

Getting to important results in science often takes the intellectual efforts of many people, each offering different kinds of contribution. When it comes to writing up collaborators face the vexed question of who should be included on the author line. Researchers in a number of disciplines — most saliently high-energy physics and biomedicine — have worried about this question, putting forward various proposals for authorship attributions. In this paper, I will offer a different angle on this debate, thinking about the different social, epistemic, and practical functions played by authorship attributions, and suggesting that we might be better off if we replace the notion of authorship with a pluralist account that distinguishes contributors, writers and guarantors.

11.00-12.15 Alesandra Tanesini (Cardiff)

Epistemic Norms and the Second Person

12.15-1.15 Lunch

1.15-2.30 Mona Simion (Cardiff)

Knowledge-First Social Epistemology

Knowledge-first epistemology takes knowledge as central to epistemological affairs and ventures to analyse other epistemic standings in terms of knowledge. This paper sketches a knowledge-first approach to social epistemological issues,  such as testimony, trust and disagreement and argues that it promises to solve several old problems faced by its truth-first cousins on the market.

2.30-3.45 Rachel Elizabeth Fraser (Cambridge)

Narrative Epistemology

Much of our testimony comes packaged as narrative: when we tell each other things, we tell each other stories. But what is it to believe the story one is told? And when is belief in stories justified? In this talk, I sketch some novel answers to these questions.

4.00-5.15 Alexander Bird (KCL) Science as Social Knowing

In this talk I contrast two approaches to the epistemology of groups. One accounts for the existence of group knowledge in terms of the mental states of the individuals constituting the relevant group. What the group knows depends on what those individuals know or believe or intend or are committed to and so on. Typically this approach will endorse or imply a supervenience thesis: the epistemic states of a social entity supervene on the mental states of the individuals making up that social entity. So I shall call this the ‘supervenience approach’ to group knowledge. The most sophisticated version of the supervenience approach is what I call the ‘commitment model’ of the social epistemic subject, which I examine in more detail. A different, more radical, approach to the epistemology of groups rejects the supervenience thesis. It sees the social epistemic subject not as supervenient on individual subjects but rather as analogous to them. So I call this the ‘analogy approach’. An important version of the analogy approach is the ‘distributed model’ of social cognition. I shall argue that the analogy approach—in the guise of the distributed model in particular—is the correct way to understand the social nature of scientific knowledge.