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Of communities and individuals as regards scientific knowledge

Shekeris, Haris (2010) Of communities and individuals as regards scientific knowledge. In: [2011] 3rd Biennial Conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (June 22-24, 2011; Exeter, UK).

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    Abstract

    In this paper I will be implicitly defending the following thesis: An individual X obtains knowledge of scientific claim p in virtue of being a member of a community A that regards claim p as knowledge. The thesis states is that a claim p only becomes scientific knowledge once it's been through a process of validation by a scientific community. This is meant to be contrasted with the claim that individuals first obtain scientific knowledge perception or inference, and then transmit it to their colleagues, without the community playing any epistemological role. The strategy that I will follow is the following. In the first section I will consider the claim “that collaboration plays a causal role in advancing scientists' epistemic goals, and that its growing popularity is a consequence of its effectiveness in aiding communities of scientists to realize their epistemic goals”(Wray 2002). I will conclude that the claim is rather weak in the sense that it only justifies certain sections of scientific practice and does not establish that in principle scientific knowledge is produced in the manner described above. An attempt to strengthen the thesis will be made through the presentation of evidence that all through history in what is widely recognised as scientific activity (the activity which claims as its originators the methodological writings of Bacon and Newton) the scientist is never alone, even if they are the single author of a scientific work. I will draw on certain insights from Latour's (1987) study in the making of scientific knowledge to support the thesis that the individual scientist is necessarily surrounded by allies. This attempt will consist of two parts, the first being what the exploration of what I term the intra-laboratory aspect of scientific activity, and the second being the public forum aspect. I will conclude that the latter aspect is the aspect which supports the claim that the production of scientific knowledge is in principle social, that is that the appropriate unit of epistemological analysis of the production of scientific knowledge is the scientific community rather than the individual scientist. Finally, I will promote the thesis that community agreement is constitutive of knowledge, presenting and arguing for the communitarian account of scientific knowledge (Kusch 2002). I will briefly argue against an individualistic conception of knowledge acquisition, based on the model of the solitary Cartesian thinker and the notion that knowing something involves being in a certain mental state, and then briefly talk about belief as the property of plural subjects before I move on to present the communitarian model of knowledge acquisition.


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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: communitarian epistemology, social knowledge
    Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
    General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
    Conferences and Volumes: [2011] 3rd Biennial Conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (June 22-24, 2011; Exeter, UK)
    Depositing User: Mr. Haris Shekeris
    Date Deposited: 07 May 2011 10:16
    Last Modified: 07 May 2011 10:16
    Item ID: 8591
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/8591

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