The intended purpose of this Topics Seminar is for the participating student (1) to become familiar with positions taken in the current debates over the specific topic area of the course; (2) to appreciate the arguments for and against the positions; and (3) to develop an independent judgment about the most promising approach in this area.
Topic of 2020-2021:
Social epistemology is a relatively recent subdiscipline that investigates the epistemic effects of social interactions and social systems. For most of this course we will understand this as complementary and not opposed to more traditional, "individual" epistemology. Social epistemology is a very active field of research that has produced a lot of exciting publications in recent years. Part of its appeal is due to its immediate applicability to pressing societal issues like, for instance, the phenomenon of filter bubbles and echo chambers, the problem of "fake news", or the (apparent) rise of conspiracy theories in political discourse.
In this course we will first examine different ways to characterize social epistemology itself. As the course progresses, we will focus on some of the central topics in social epistemology: testimony, peer disagreement, the problem of identifying experts, epistemic injustice, group justification, and the epistemology of collective agents.
The central reading will be Alvin Goldman and Dennis Whitcomb's anthology "Social Epistemology", but we will also discuss recent publications by authors such as Miranda Fricker, Sanford Goldberg, Jennifer Lackey, or Thi Nguyen."
This course is for students in the RMA Philosophy programme and History & Philosophy of Science; students from other M.A. programmes (such as Applied Ethics), should check with the course coordinator or the RMA Philosophy coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org), before enrolling, to ensure that they have the requisite philosophical background. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coördinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coördinator yourself.
|You must meet the following requirements|
Prerequisite knowledge can be obtained through
|Broad familiarity with undergraduate-level work in the areas covered in the course (logic, epistemology, philosophy of science). Students from outside the RMA programme who have not completed MA or advanced undergraduate courses in this area should consult the instructor before enrolling|
Private study materials
|Goldman, Alvin and O’Connor, Cailin (2019) Social Epistemology, in: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology-social|
|Will be made available via Blackboard.||Required materials|
|Required materials: "Parts of the course are based on the anthology “Social Epistemology” edited by Alvin Goldman and Dennis Whitcomb. The relevant parts of it will be made available in PDF form via Blackboard."|
General remarksSeminars are 3 hours in length, even when they are scheduled in a 4-hour timeslot.
Class session preparationStudents are expected to have carefully read the assigned textbook chapter in advance of the seminar meeting. In order to prepare classroom discussion, students are required to submit a short (one or two paragraph) answer to an assigned question from the textbook for peer review, and to provide brief feedback to the answers of some of their classmates."
Contribution to group workActive participation.
AssessmentThe assignment or examination is assessed for demonstrating understanding of the texts, skills of critical argumentation, and written communication skills.
DeadlinesA written assignment, take-home examination, or in-class examination is due half-way through the term.
AssessmentThe final paper is assessed for the quality of the research question, cogency of the argumentation, clarity of written expression, and demonstrated ability to relate the analysis to a clear understanding of the texts for the course.
DeadlinesThe final paper is due in week 9.