A defense of Longino's social epistemology

Philosophy of Science 66 (3):552 (1999)
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Abstract
Though many agree that we need to account for the role that social factors play in inquiry, developing a viable social epistemology has proved to be difficult. According to Longino, it is the processes that make inquiry possible that are aptly described as "social," for they require a number of people to sustain them. These processes, she claims, not only facilitate inquiry, but also ensure that the results of inquiry are more than mere subjective opinions, and thus deserve to be called "knowledge." In this paper, I (a) explain Longino's epistemology, and (b) defend it against charges that have recently been raised by Kitcher, Schmitt, and Solomon. Longino rightly recognizes that not all social factors have the same (adverse) affect on inquiry. She also recommends that we distinguish knowledge from mere opinion by reference to a social standard
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