Social epistemology

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P046-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 14, 2024, from

3. The organization of cognitive labour

Traditional epistemology has little to say on the matter of how individuals should coordinate and institutionalize their inquiry to enhance their prospects of obtaining individual or group knowledge. In recent years, epistemologists have taken an interest in this matter, especially as it applies to science. One question concerns the obligations of individuals to disseminate information to or withhold it from others. A.I. Goldman (1992) has argued for epistemic paternalism, the view that individuals should sometimes withhold information to enhance the prospects that recipients will arrive at knowledge or true belief – as, for example, when evidence of a crime is ruled inadmissible in a court of law to prevent the jury from being misled. A second question is what features interpersonal argumentation should have if it is to serve the development of knowledge. A third question is whether, to enhance the prospects of scientific group knowledge, individuals (or subgroups) should pursue lines of inquiry that are unpromising or based on improbable theories. A fourth question is whether individuals’ cognitive biases induced by their social interests, such as ambition for professional credit, may steer individual research and belief-formation in such a way as to enhance the prospects of proper group belief-formation.

Citing this article:
Schmitt, Frederick F.. The organization of cognitive labour. Social epistemology, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P046-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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