Program: Future Fundamentals of Social Epistemology


We have decided that Google+ Hangout will work best for streaming conference presentations. Trevor Croker tcroker@vt.edu will host the hangouts. If any questions or problems arise, please contact Trevor.

Friday, 25 July

Pre-Conference
8:30-11:30; 1:00-4:00 Writing Process Reengineering
❧ Thomas Basbøll, Copenhagen Business School, thomas@basboell.com

370 Shanks Hall, Virginia Tech

    Event page: https://plus.google.com/events/cu6hc3cogpp8v1aq4is1r8ep6g8
    YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iI2p8PmcG4

I will hold my "writing process reengineering" seminar as a professional development workshop. I offer this workshop at the Copenhagen Business School, the University of Copenhagen and the University of Southern Denmark, among others. The workshop will give doctoral students and junior faculty an overview of my approach and tools and techniques to help them succeed in a "publish or perish" world. More established scholars, who may not be immediately interested in attending an "academic writing course", could attend to see what I do and to decide whether it counts, as I think it does, as doing social epistemology in practice. I describe aspects of this approach in "The Supplementary Clerk: Social Epistemology as a Vocation" (http://bit.ly/1itxkXi).


Monday, 28 July

1:30-3:30 Practical Considerations, Normatively Posed
❧ Jim Collier, Virginia Tech, jim.collier@vt.edu, @ReplyCollective

SCALE-UP classroom, Newman Library, Virginia Tech

    Event Page: https://plus.google.com/events/cgk7kmaoj3lbpj7jofau3puv87s
    YouTube Page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15t09rFDuj8

After a greeting, a brief summary of the state of affairs regarding Social Epistemology (journal), Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective (members and digital outlet), and Collective Studies in Knowledge and Society (book series), and minimal stage setting, I will guide a discussion, and ask for recommendations, regarding project next steps, and policy aims, promoting the future fundamentals of social epistemology. To advance the discussion, I ask all who are interested in our endeavor and activities to help set the panel's agenda by contacting me (see above) and offering comments, ideas and suggestions (by 21 July).


Tuesday, 29 July

9:30-11:30 Normativity
❧ Joan Leach, University of Queensland, j.leach@uq.edu.au
❧ Mel Orozco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, meg_orozco@hotmail.com

    Event Page: https://plus.google.com/events/cfo8c4b4d5jgevt6k9hrm038va0
    YouTube Page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGbXVnCnhS8

SCALE-UP classroom, Newman Library, Virginia Tech

The importance of studying knowledge production from a normative perspective has been a basic principle in social epistemology. Steve Fuller's program has been resolute in encouraging scholars to use the results of their inquiry on the social production of knowledge, as a base from which they could pose questions and make suggestions to multiply the benefits of the pursuit of knowledge, while keeping the cost of their pursuit low. In this sense, Fuller's program brings forth issues regarding the social, political and economic conditions that would generate a particular kind of normativity. This program, in turn, would connect the empirical studies of social production of knowledge with the perennial questions of philosophy. Yet, developing a normative vision combining both the empirical and the philosophical seems an overwhelming exercise. In this roundtable discussion, participants are welcome to offer their thoughts, ideas and questions related to the problem of exploring the social production of knowledge in a normative style. Particular emphasis will be placed on the following topics:

  • The relationship between theory and practice in social epistemology;
  • Styles of normativity in the humanities and what they mean for epistemology;
  • Visioneering as a way to addressing normative concerns.

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1:30-3:30 Keynote Address "Social Epistemology: The Future of an Unfulfilled Promise"
❧ Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology, University of Warwick, S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk

Multipurpose room, Newman Library, Virginia Tech

"I have never denied an interest in truth as the ultimate end of inquiry, and I have certainly endorsed the idea that social justice is a worthy feature of any normative order. However, both truth and social justice are abstract ideals that may be instantiated in different ways at different times and places. The job of the social epistemologist — very much in the spirit of Hegel — is to discern the vehicles of these concepts at particular moments that have the capacity to expand the horizons of the human condition." Please read Steve Fuller keynote address "Social Epistemology: The Future of an Unfulfilled Promise". Steve's presentation and the disucssion to follow will, undoubtedly, be spirited and consequential.


Wednesday, 30 July

9:30-11:30 Humanity 2.0 and Extended Humanities
❧ David Budtz Pedersen, Humanomics Research Centre, University of Copenhagen, davidp@hum.ku.dk
❧ Gregory Sandstrom, European Humanities University and Lithuanian Research Council, gregory.sandstrom@ehu.lt
❧ Francis Remedios, Independent Researcher, Canada, francisxr28@gmail.com
❧ Georg Theiner, Villanova University, georg.theiner@villanova.edu

SCALE-UP classroom, Newman Library, Virginia Tech

    Event Page: https://plus.google.com/events/c9viv17dladg5meae04a6f79d6c
    YouTube Page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdBZoc090oc

Extended cognition is the hypothesis that the reach of the mind need not end at the boundaries of the human body. Tools, instruments, technologies and other physical and social infrastructures can, under certain conditions, count as parts of human cognitive activity. The separation of mind, body, and environment has been imperative throughout the philosophical tradition. Yet, external objects play a significant role in facilitating cognitive processes. Directions written down in a notebook can serve the function of memory. In the not so distant future, one may imagine a biological being that retains information in non-neural ways (e.g. prosthetics to support memory). In this way, cognition is extended into the world through different media.

This panel unravels the major challenges involved in understanding the complementarity between internal and external elements of cognition. Instead of focusing exclusively on physical devices, panel speakers are invited to reflect upon the social and human basis for extended cognition. How do libraries, art collections, digital media and social networks constitute human extensions? And how can we understand the object of study in the humanities and social sciences as a product of extended humanity? In order to investigate these questions, the panel comprises three short papers complemented by a collective experiment, in which the results of a series of audio interviews will be presented and discussed interactively during the session.

Presentation Titles
Georg Theiner, "The Human Mind 1.x, Extended"
David Budtz Pedersen, "Extending Humanities: From Cognitive Science to Digital Humanities"
Gregory Sandstrom, "The Social Epistemology of Human Extension"

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1:30-3:30 Proaction and Precaution
❧ Francis Remedios, Independent Researcher, Canada, francisxr28@gmail.com
❧ David Budtz Pedersen, Humanomics Research Centre, University of Copenhagen, davidp@hum.ku.dk
❧ Gregory Sandstrom, European Humanities University and Lithuanian Research Council, gregory.sandstrom@ehu.lt

SCALE-UP classroom, Newman Library, Virginia Tech

Following Steve Fuller's Humanity 2.0 (Palgrave 2011), a book addressing the impact of biosciences and nanosciences on humanity, comes Fuller and Veronika Lipinska's The Proactionary Imperative (Palgrave 2014). Fuller and Lipinska assert that to advance the human condition the proactionary principle, which promotes risk taking, should be favored over the precautionary principle, which counsels risk aversion.

Instead of a precautionary welfare state 1.0 that seeks to protect citizens from harm, Fuller and Lipinska advocate a proactionary welfare state, welfare state 2.0. In the welfare state 2.0, risk taking should be collectivized and the benefits redistributed to all citizens. We will take up questions arising from problems with welfare state 2.0. For example, why should humans 2.0 redistribute to humans 1.0 if the biological substrate of humans 2.0 is radically different from humans 1.0?

Presentation Titles
Francis Remedios, "Fuller on Precautionary and Proactionary Principles"
David Budtz Pedersen, "Risk and Resilience: The Social Epistemology of Good Governance"
Gregory Sandstrom, "Precautionary Proaction or Proactionary Precaution: The Challenge of Degree vs. Kind"


Thursday, 31 July

9:30-11:30 Social Epistemology for the Social Sciences
❧ Mark D. West, University of North Carolina at Asheville, westinbrevard@yahoo.com
❧ Miika Vähämaa, University of Helsinki, miika.vahamaa@gmail.com

SCALE-UP classroom, Newman Library, Virginia Tech

    Event Page: https://plus.google.com/events/c78rl2t8t85vl0fg8g6uc02onto
    YouTube Page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StlExM75Q1Y

Our panel discusses the need of empirical social epistemology to support the epistemic significance of social sciences in contemporary societies. We take up the claim that much of social science crossed epistemic issues — and even developed important aspects of social epistemology — but failed to promote the epistemological aspects of the results gained in social scientific research. As a result, the formal logical epistemology of the natural sciences has expanded to take over the field of "epistemology" even in social science. Panel leaders will map the existing contributions of social psychology and communication to the field of social epistemology. Panelists' arguments build on empirical work conducted by Vähämaa and West. Their empirical work has focused on the function of social epistemologies in practice.

Vähämaa and West have studied, by quantitative social science methods, epistemic communities around mathematics, attitudes towards science across ethnic groups, and epistemic groups in international political communication and municipal city planning organizations. Alin has studied boundary spanning as a social epistemic work across work organizations.

Panelists present briefly their empirical cases and point how social epistemology connects to social science writing and research in practice.

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1:30-3:30 Science and Technology Studies
❧ William Davis, Virginia Tech, widavis@vt.edu
Participants may include:
❧ Mel Orozco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, meg_orozco@hotmail.com
❧ Laura Cabrera, University of British Columbia, cabreral@mail.ubc.ca (via Google+ Hangout)
❧ Catelijne Coopmans, National University of Singapore, rctcc@nus.edu.sg (via Google+ Hangout)
❧ Keith Johnson, Virginia Tech, keithtj8@vt.edu

SCALE-UP classroom, Newman Library, Virginia Tech

We will discuss how social epistemology and Science and Technology Studies (STS) may inform, and transform, one another in the teaching and scholarship of early-career scholars. Early-career scholars face unique vulnerabilities in the contemporary academy. Our position as early-career scholars frames the issues we will address involving the political advantages, and liabilities, surrounding the advocacy of social epistemology in, and through, our pedagogy. Specifically, we will consider the approaches and consequences of bringing social epistemology into STS courses (at both the undergraduate and graduate level). Our interests extend to how social epistemology fits our introduction not only into STS classrooms, but also into STS scholarship. We seek to promote discussion on theoretical orientations associated with social epistemology and how they can be implemented into current STS scholarship. We question the extent to whether to which STS scholarship can be shaped by social epistemology. Does social epistemology, then, offer a unique, advantageous forum for pedagogical and scholarly imagination and performance in an STS overcrowded by actor-network theory?


Friday, 1 August

8:30-10:30 Intersubjectvity
❧ Patrick Reider, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, pjr23@pitt.edu
❧ Michael Wolf, Washington and Jefferson College, mwolf@washjeff.edu
❧ Ben Letson, Emory and Henry College, bhletson@ehc.edu
❧ Frank Scalambrino, University of Dallas, fscalambrino@udallas.edu (via Google+ Hangout)

SCALE-UP classroom, Newman Library, Virginia Tech

    Event Page: https://plus.google.com/events/c44dohpg9gn4du3tiedprhhi8js
    YouTube Page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_aXRFS1r28

The concept of intersubjectivity is a foundational topic in social epistemology (i.e., the study of the relationship between society and knowledge) that concerns the mental state whereby multiple individuals become aware of the same phenomenon. In this segment of the symposium, "Future Fundamentals for Social Epistemology," four panelists will present short interrelated talks on intersubjectivity and social epistemology.

Frank Scalambrino (University of Dallas) will focus on the confluence of neo-pragmatism and post-modernism. He argues that, just as post-modernism arouses suspicion toward "meta-narratives" by highlighting the social and political character of knowledge, there is a parallel sense in which neo-pragmatism's re-characterization of knowledge emphasizes a concern for solidarity over that of objective truth. Michael P. Wolf (Washington and Jefferson College) makes the case that intersubjectivity should be understood in robust normative terms through which various forms of permission to assert and act (and back up our collective commitments) fundamentally underpin the sense in which we achieve knowledge as groups. Ben Letson (Emory and Henry College ) will discuss inter-subjectivity as a way of rescuing Rorty's pragmatic anti-realism from the threat of incommensurable conceptual schemes. Patrick J. Reider (University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg) will examine the need to understand intersubjectivity as the product of normative practices that arise from one's life-world and the material embodiment of communities. Each talk will be followed by group discussion with an emphasis on audience participation.

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11:00-12:00 Life in the Age of New Body Parts and Extra Senses
❧ Neil Harbisson, @NeilHarbisson

SCALE-UP classroom, Newman Library, Virginia Tech (via Google+ Hangout)

Neil Harbisson is the co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation, an organization that promotes the use of cybernetics as a body part to extend human senses and perception. Harbisson has an antenna implanted in his skull that allows him to perceive the spectrum beyond human vision. Neil will talk about how becoming a cyborg has brought him closer to nature and to animals.

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Brief, concluding remarks.