Early Modern Social Epistemology

May 19, 2023 - May 20, 2023
Department of Philosophy, Central European University

Quellenstraße 51
Vienna 1100

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University of Edinburgh

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Traditionally, early modern epistemology is seen as strikingly individualist. It is epitomized by the Cartesian meditator’s attempt to find a foundation for the sciences on the basis of her individual reason alone. Recently, however, this picture has begun to be challenged. Concurrent with a shift in contemporary analytic epistemology towards a more practical and embodied view of knowledge, historians have begun to draw attention to the role of social features in early modern epistemologies in both canonical and non-canonical authors. This conference aims to both reflect on this shift and to further it.

We welcome papers on the following questions and topics:

  • Is early modern epistemology inherently or especially individualist?

  • Are canonical early modern thinkers surprisingly social in their thinking about epistemology?

  • Are there non-canonical early modern thinkers whose epistemologies are surprisingly social?

  • Elements of social epistemology itself in early modern thinkers, including but not limited to:

    • Testimony

    • Disagreement, consensus and its epistemological implications

    • Expertise and trust in epistemic authorities

    • Prejudice and superstition

    • Intersubjectivity

    • The role of the passions/affects for knowledge

    • The social constitution of scientific knowledge (through e.g. the Royal Society)

Submission guidelines:

Please prepare a 500-word abstract for blind review, together with a separate document containing the title of your talk and your name and institutional affiliation. Submissions (in docx or pdf format) can be sent to [email protected]

Presentations will be given 45-minute slots (30 mins. talk + 15 mins. Q&A). There will be no parallel sessions.

The submission deadline is February 15, 2023 at 23:59 CET.

We expect to make our decisions by the end of February.

We will aim for gender equity in accepted presentations. Members of underrepresented groups are especially welcome to apply. We hope to be able to support accepted speakers with a travel bursary of up to 200 euros.

In case of any questions, please contact the organizers at [email protected]


Dávid Bartha, Ruben Noorloos & Mike Griffin

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May 16, 2023, 11:45pm CET

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