Sawyer Seminar

Theoretical Issues in Social Epistemology


Our society faces profound environmental, political, educational, health, and economic challenges.  Potential solutions to these challenges will have to rely on the best of what we know.   But no sooner do we try to apply our knowledge to these challenges, than we face a series of questions about the extent of our knowledge, and what to do when there is disagreement over what we claim to know.   To address these questions, we will need more than expertise in each of the relevant fields (environmental science, educational theory and practice, etc.).  In addition, we will need to have a sense of how information is acquired, stored, shared, dissected, and ultimately vindicated as knowledge.   In short, we will need to understand the social dimensions of knowledge production.  It is precisely this topic that we will be addressing in a Sawyer Seminar comprising four conferences and complemented by related quarter-long reading groups.  While the Seminar is being convened by the Northwestern Philosophy Department, its co-organizers include faculty from the broader social epistemology community at Northwestern.  What is more, our events will feature the participation of leading US and international thinkers from a variety of different disciplinary backgrounds, and they will be aimed to engage the whole Chicago-area social epistemology community. 

Primary Investigator:  Sanford Goldberg (Philosophy)