The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 5, 2000


Alvin I. Goldman
Pages 107-114

Veritistic Social Epistemology

Epistemology needs a social branch to complement its traditional, ‘individualist’ branch. Like its individualist sister, social epistemology would be an evaluative enterprise. It would assess (actual and possible) social practices in terms of their propensities to promote or inhibit knowledge, where knowledge is understood in the sense of true belief. Social epistemology should examine the practices of many types of players, as well as technological and institutional structures: speakers, hearers, gate-keepers of communication (e.g., editors, publishers, referees), communication technologies and their applications, and legal and economic arrangements that influence the epistemic quality of public speech. A mixture of analytical tools should be employed to assess practices in terms of their likely knowledge outcomes, tools that include Bayesian probability theory, economic theory, and empirical inquiry.