Date of Degree

9-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Philosophy

Advisor

Samir Chopra

Subject Categories

Philosophy

Abstract

One area of debate in naturalized epistemology is how to best interpret the relationship between naturalism and traditional analytic epistemology. This is particularly the case for epistemologists who commit to methodological forms of naturalism:

First, I contend that methodological naturalists must commit, at minimum, to the idea that the best methods of knowledge-production in science ought to determine the best methods of knowledge-production full stop. I also contend that the best methods of knowledge-production in science are determined by and performed within scientific communities. Thus a methodological naturalist, to minimally call herself such, ought to consider knowledge-production within 'communities of inquirers' utilizing community-determined methods (truth-conducive or not) as the fundamental framework of the method of science.

Second, I contend that 'communities of inquirers,' more broadly, including the paradigmatic 'scientific community,' ought to be the primary terrain of naturalized epistemologists committed to methodological naturalism. And, because of this, I claim that all naturalized epistemologists ought to be social epistemologists. I agree that this may seem undesirable: social epistemology, following Rorty (1979), has a history of focusing on groups, institutions, and collective doxastic agents in consensus-based models that are either non-veritistic or radically deflationist about truth and objectivity. This has led to the exclusion of social epistemology from the traditional canon of epistemology, and the rejection of Peirce's (1877) 'communities of inquirers' view as too entangled with social and political 'noise' to be conducive to finding truth. But I think this is an unnecessary interpretation. I claim, following Goldman (1999), that social epistemology can be truth-directed or 'veritistic' in practice ' even if not in the way that Goldman (1999) imagines. Ultimately, I argue, inspired by the American pragmatists, and particularly Dewey and Peirce, we do not have to reject truth and objectivity in order to maintain a social account of knowledge-production.

Lastly, I suggest that one benefit of this view of epistemology is that it relocates a crucial area of philosophical inquiry from within the walls of 'academic philosophy' and situates it where it actually belongs ' in the world. One benefit of doing this is that epistemologists can make meaningful use of emerging tools in information science to visualize and theorize the activities within various 'communities of inquirers:' this includes such tools as large-scale data mining, scientific citation mapping, topic and/or cluster mapping, and data visualizations.

Included in

Philosophy Commons

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