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Social Epistemology: The Benefit Of "We"

2716 words - 11 pages

Social Epistemology: The Benefit of “We”
In many situations and events, many seek to find an individual to who will be praised for the success or criticized for the failure. Frequently, those in reflection ignore or either fail to recognize the collaborative efforts of many who initiated and developed such situations. A contemporary example is how most frequently blame President Barack Obama for negative events such as the current recession, and even simple things such as gas prices, welfare, ect. Many decide to ignore other political parties and politician that effect nationwide decisions. Also, the idea that decisions made in previous presidential tenures affect the range of resources the incumbent has to work with. Examples like this contribute to the overall idea that many fail to see the group effect on situations/events and rather attempt to find individuals to either praise or blame.
This ideology or mind-set can be found within certain disciplines, especially epistemology. Throughout its discourse, many seek to define knowledge in aspects of the individual without giving reference to group contributions. Alvin Goldman (2010) believes that even though much reference is given to the individual, the history of epistemology has many social aspects that are frequently overlooked. Also, Cynthia Townley (2011) believes that the study of epistemology downplays the importance of epistemic dependence in order to give credit to individual examples of knowledge. She defines dependence as a communal exchange of knowledge and distinguishes it from independence, which is self-generated or an individual act of knowledge. In any case, one can see, upon reflection, that many propositions of knowledge are rarely self-generated. Take for example the claim that George Washington was the first president of the United States. Not only is the initial exchange of knowledge an example of epistemic dependence (i.e. the teacher and the student) but also the process of discovering this fact relies upon the consensus of historians (i.e. through the investigation and proposition). This paper intends to briefly define social epistemology, as well as show the importance of social dependence in epistemic investigation. Then, try to conceptually define social virtues and compare them to previously mentioned epistemic virtues that are highly individualistic. Following that discussion, by providing an example of epistemic communities, the importance of social epistemology will be reinforced. This culmination of ideas will show that social epistemology is an important aspect of the entire study of knowledge. Social dependence is not inferior to independence, and by encompassing social epistemology; the definition and understanding of knowledge will advance.
History of Social Epistemology
Social epistemological aspects have been theorized throughout history. Goldman (2010), Social Epistemology, mentions certain cases that conceptually can be viewed as...

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