Science versus Society? Social epistemology meets the philosophy of the humanities

Special Issue of *Foundations of Science*

Guest Editors: Anton Froeyman, Laszlo Kosolosky and Jeroen Van Bouwel
(Ghent University)

*Aim of the issue:*


The aim of this issue is to bring together two philosophical disciplines,
i.e. social epistemology and philosophy of the humanities, that have been
dealing with the same topic: the relation between science and its social

First, the relation between science and society is one of the focal points
of the recently developed discipline of social epistemology. Social
epistemology can be seen as a compromise between analytical philosophy of
science (departing from a too idealist and individualistic view of
scientific practice) and sociology of science (departing from a merely
descriptive, constructivist view). Social epistemology regards the social
and cultural aspects of science as essential, while still holding on to
notions such as scientific rationality and objectivity, be it in more
social versions than traditional philosophy of science.

On the other hand, philosophers of the humanities and social sciences
(philosophers of history, anthropology, political sciences, sociology,
psychology/psychotherapy, post-colonial studies, gender studies… ),  have
been thinking about the relation between society and the disciplines they
study in comparable terms. Ever since the days of Max Weber and the
Neo-Kantians, there has been a continuous discussion about the role of the
social and historical context of the humanities. Contrary to mainstream
philosophy of science, the social context of the humanities has never been
out of focus. Philosophers of history for example have always pondered
about the role of history in the construction of national or post-national
identities, and theorists of anthropology have wondered about whether or
not anthropology carries an imperialistic subtext. Entire new disciplines
such as post-colonial and gender studies have arisen as a consequence of
changing social circumstances and have prompted many discussions about the
role of social and political context in other disciplines.

Bringing these two groups of scholars together has obvious advantages for
both parties. Social epistemology, on the one hand, may benefit from a
surplus of tradition and experience in the philosophy of the humanities and
may learn to know a whole new array of case-studies. Philosophers of the
humanities, on the other hand, might learn to know a way of doing general
philosophy of science that is more receptive to the issues they are
concerned with.

We invite both social epistemologists and philosophers of the humanities
(such as theorists of history, anthropology, psychology/psychotherapy,
gender studies, post-colonial studies, political sciences,…) to submit
papers on the relation between scientific (understood in the broad sense as
*Wissenschaft*) disciplines and society. Purely theoretical papers are
welcome, but reference to case-studies is especially appreciated.
Continental and analytic theoretical frameworks will be treated with equal

*Possible questions and topics for discussion include, but are not limited

   – Impact of shifting from an individual to a social level of analysis on
   issues such as pursuit worthiness of theories, scientific integrity,
   values, engagement, objectivity, consensus, disagreement, propositional
   attitudes and expertise.
   – Democratize science and/or scienticize democracy: why and how to deal
   with democratic influences on science, and vice versa.
   – Political consequences of scientific theories: liberation,
   recognition, or imperialism?
   – Governmental involvement in and funding of scientific research
   – Scientific justification or legitimation of a political system, or
   scientific justification and legitimation of opposition or revolution; how
   do certain scientific research programs consolidate certain political
   – Uncertainty or dissensus in science versus public demand for unanimity
   or consensus.
   – The public role of the scientist: public participation and influence
   on policy making
   – Society and its “others”: the role of history, anthropology,
   psychology, psychotherapy, gender studies,… in assessing, liberating or
   repressing the others of a community.


*Submission details:*


The deadline for receipt of submissions is *31 October 2012*, after which
the papers will be subjected to external peer review. This special issue of
*Foundations of Science* will appear in print as one of the issues of 2013.
Articles will appear online first within a few weeks after acceptance.

Papers should preferably not exceed 8000 words. If so, please keep in mind
that length should be in good equilibrium with content, in order for
quality and readability to be maintained.

Authors should submit manuscripts electronically, prepared as a PDF or Word
document or rtf attachment, and emailed to with
the heading ‘CFP: Science versus Society’. In their email message, authors
should include their full name, affiliation and address for email

Further enquiries can be addressed to Laszlo Kosolosky (, Anton Froeyman ( or
Jeroen Van Bouwel ( If in doubt whether their
work fits our description, authors are cordially invited to send in a short

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