PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

Speaker: Kareem Khalifa (University of California, Los Angeles), in collaboration with Sandy Goldberg (Northwestern University)

Title: Do Scientific Communities Understand? A Fictionalist Account

Abstract: Scientific understanding of a phenomenon typically involves multiple specialists performing interdependent tasks. For these reasons, contemporary social epistemology suggests that the scientific community is the primary locus of understanding, and that individual scientists’ understanding is merely tributary to that understanding. Using the current neuroscientific understanding of hunger’s effects on aggression as a case study, we argue instead for a fictionalist position. On our view, sentences that attribute understanding to scientific communities are not to be taken literally, but are instead a convenient way of talking about how social environments associated with a scientific community foster individual scientists' understanding. Relative to the more prevalent social-epistemological positions that take these sentences literally (e.g., summativism and non-summativism), our fictionalism is both distinctive and accords better with scientific practice.

Further information

We are a group of researchers from diverse backgrounds in the above-mentioned groups (and beyond) who aim to gain an interdisciplinary yet deep understanding of the threads that bind the human mind and the world. In particular, this seminar series focuses on the nature of cognition, metacognition and social cognition. We’ll be tackling questions such as, what does it mean to think? What does it mean to think about thinking? And, what does it mean to think about one’s own thinking versus thinking about the thinking of other people? Please come along!

Can I be on the mailing list and send mails to the list?

Yes, you can. Just go to mailing list.

Contact details

Tillmann Vierkant

Sep 14 2023 -

PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

2023-09-14: Do Scientific Communities Understand? A Fictionalist Account

Room G.05, 50 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LH