CFP: Social Epistemology & Technology: Toward Increasing Public Self-Awareness Regarding Technological Mediation

Submission deadline: October 6, 2014

Topic areas


Summary Version of the Call for Authors:

This edited volume seeks to bring together scholars from across disciplines to discuss the social effects of technological mediation, focusing on the normative social dimensions effected by technological mediation of knowledge or the changing conceptions of humans and humanity effected by technological mediation of embodiment.  A 500 word abstract is due by Oct. 6th.  If selected as a book chapter, then 3,000 to 4,000 words by March 2nd 2015.  If selected as a journal article, then 4,000 to 5,000 words by March 2nd 2015.  The edited book titled Social Epistemology and Technology: Toward Increasing Public Self-Awareness regarding Technological Mediation will be published by Rowman & Littlefield International as part of the Collective Studies in Knowledge and Society series.  The articles will be published by the peer-reviewed online journal Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.  The book and articles are expected to be published in July, 2015. 

This Detailed Version is organized into the following three sections:

I. Description of the Project

II. Suggested Approaches

III. Design, Deadline & How to Submit a Proposal

I. Description of the Project

An amazing number of new social possibilities have emerged in the 21st century, and technology is a major condition for these possibilities.  As part of the Collective Studies in Knowledge and Society series to be published by Rowman & Littlefield International, this is a “call for authors” for the volume titled Social Epistemology and Technology: Toward Increasing Public Self-Awareness regarding Technological Mediation.  Because the project developed out of the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective (SERRC), this call for authors also involves the possibility of peer-reviewed publication through the SERRC online journal. 

 In other words, as one of the expressed goals of the book series is to “promote philosophy as a vital, necessary, public activity,” some papers will be accepted for publication in the book volume and some will be accepted for publication in the journal.  The idea is then to place the publications into dialog via the online journal “review and reply collective.”  Those papers selected for the journal will be encouraged to, at least, partially direct their work toward related content published in the book.  This should facilitate collective discussion, since the authors of the book chapters will then have an opportunity to reply.  Hereafter, then, “the project” refers to both the book and the journal publications.

 “Public self-awareness” in the sub-title of the book points to the two objectives of the project.  First, in regard to “analysing normative social dimensions” and “promoting philosophy” the project takes the discussion of issues related to technological mediation of knowledge as an objective.  This includes:

    (a)  concern for “public interest” in knowledge organization and dissemination (e.g. access);

    (b)  the role of technological mediation regarding the knowledge that co-constitutes, along with the persons themselves, a “human society”;

    (c)   the role of technological mediation regarding the generally accepted, however vaguely identified, meaning attributed to cities, buildings and spaces in relation to the persons understood as users of such information.

The second objective regards the theme of exploring changing conceptions of humans and humanity.”  For the purposes of the project this may be generally understood as related to issues of technologically augmented subjectivity or genetically, chemically, electronically, or mechanically altered human beings.  This includes:

    (d)  insights gained through discussion of systems-oriented understandings of individuals, and social groups, as multi-voiced bodies;

    (e)   discussion of the “essence of technology” and “social engineering,” i.e. the role of technological mediation in the destiny of humanity;

    (f)   concern for the role of technological mediation in the determination of knowledge influencing humans and humanity.  Though the technology of a cybernetic culture may increase efficiency and provideinsight into a cybernetic understanding of humanity, it falls to philosophers to discuss whether such “progress” or “enhancement” ultimately leads to a kind of diminished conception of humans and humanity and, thereby, a diminished lived-experience, e.g. a loss regarding agency, the dignity of the person, the sustainability of diversity, or depth in the meaning of embodied experience.

II. Suggested Approaches

Whereas the first objective directly addresses the relation between technology and social epistemology’s “fundamental question,” i.e. how should the pursuit of knowledge be organized, the second objective includes discussions regarding the social constitution of subjectivity.

Some questions which may be addressed include, but are not limited to:

     1)     What is the nature of technology’s impact on what it means to be human and to be a member of a human society? 

     2)     What is the nature of technology’s impact on the meaning of cities, buildings, and spaces, and, thereby, our knowledge of those spaces and the activities we perform there? 

     3)     How does a notion of “public interest” factor into technological mediation understood as both a product and an instrument of social power?  I.e. how do the constraints of technological mediation relate to the possibility of “public self-awareness,” especially in the relation to information organized and disseminated for public consumption through technology?

     4)     How does the technology which allows for access to knowledge influence/limit the character of that knowledge?  E.g. the sources of evidence used in making choices; the kinds of epistemic outcomes, purposes, or norms used in the evaluations.

     5)     How are we to understand the type of agent, or system, who makes knowledge-based choices or selections?  E.g. whereas traditionally epistemology conceives of epistemic agents as individuals, the point of departure for social epistemology may best be characterized as “systems.”  Of course social epistemology may also consider individuals; however, in doing so the individual is often understood as a constituent of, or participant in, multiple systems, and thereby may also be characterized as a system (cf. a multi-voiced body).

The following resources may provide further context for potential authors:; Steve Fuller’s seminal Social Epistemology (1988); Talcott Parson’s Social Systems and the Evolution of Action Theory (1977); Robert Romanyshyn’s Technology as Symptom and Dream (1989); Andy Clark’s Natural-Born Cyborgs (2004); Ralph Schroeder’s Rethinking Science, Technology, and Social Change (2007); Fred Evans’ The Multivoiced Body (2008); the Claire Brossard and Barnard Reber edited Digital Cognitive Technologies: Epistemology and Knowledge Society (2010); Alvin Goldman’s “A Guide to Social Epistemology” (2012); the Ulrik Ekman edited Throughout: Art and Culture Emerging with Ubiquitous Computing (2013).  Other authors of interest may include Martin Heidegger on Technology; Jacques Ellul on Technology; Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man; Michel Foucault’s genealogical project.

III. Design, Deadline & How to Submit a Proposal

The project may include up to 40 publications (up to 20 to the book and up to 20 to the journal) to be written in a style conducive to discussion and public accessibility.  This means the chapters of the book will be short, i.e. between 3,000 and 4,000 words including references, and the peer-reviewed online journal articles may be between 4,000 and 5,000 words including references.  The exact design for the book chapter authors’ responses to journal authors is to be determined.  That is, the responses may take the form of “reply comments” on the SERRC website, or in the case of a SERRC online journal published short “critical reply” the word length will be 2,000 to 3,000 words.

To be considered for inclusion in the project, please submit an abstract of approximately 500 words explaining the nature of your proposed contribution and its relation to the above social epistemology-related objectives of the project.  The deadline for consideration in the project is October 6th 2014, 8:00am (Central Time Zone).

Please submit proposals, and direct all correspondence regarding the project, to:

Frank Scalambrino, Ph.D.

Philosophy Department

University of Dallas, USA

You will receive confirmation upon receipt of your submission, and the final decision regarding which authors will be included in the project will be made by November 3rd 2014.  After Nov. 3rd authors selected for the journal will receive the relevant anonymous abstracts from book chapter authors.  All authors will then have four (4) months to submit a first draft.  Including the subsequent editing requests and resubmit process, final drafts should be submitted no later than July 15th 2015.  The publication of the journal articles will coincide with the publication of the book, at which time the reply process will be determined.

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