The Applied Epistemology Research Group is now running several research projects:
– INTELLECTUAL AUTONOMY IN ENVIRONMENTS OF EPISTEMIC DEPENDENCE (FFI2017-87395-P)
– ARGUMENTATIVE PRACTICES AND PRAGMATICS OF REASONS (PGC2018-095941-B-100)
– APPLY: NEW TRENDS IN APPLIED PHILOSOPHY. FROM THEORETICAL PHILOSOPHY TO NEW CHALLENGES OF SOCIETY (RED2018-102695-T)
– PUBLIC CONTROVERSY: AN ANALYSIS FROM SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY
– NEW PERSPECTIVES IN EPISTEMIC RISK (PGC2018-098805-B-I00)
INTELLECTUAL AUTONOMY IN ENVIRONMENTS OF EPISTEMIC DEPENDENCE (FFI2017-87395-P).
IP: Jesús Vega Encabo.
The aim of this project is to reconsider the attractiveness of the ideal of intellectual autonomy once epistemology has accepted the value of epistemic dependence. The theoretical framework is provided by virtue epistemology, conceiving of virtues as competences of agents. The starting point is the recognition that our achievements are only explainable under conditions of dependence on other agents, instruments and epistemic technologies, and on complex normative and institutional contexts. Epistemic dependence manifests itself in many ways: as trust in others, as outsourcing of cognitive capabilities, as deference to different types of external resources, and as embedding and enculturation in epistemic environments. For many, this recognition of the role of epistemic dependence is incompatible with the pursuit of an ideal of intellectual autonomy. This is so if we conceive such an ideal from individualistic, ‘egoist’ premises, which promote epistemic isolation. In this project, we adopt a hypothesis that may be called ‘compatibilist’. Relying on versions of virtue epistemology that can even be considered robust, we aim to redefine the ideal of autonomy and the associated virtues (independence of thought, intellectual courage, engagement, etc) for environments of epistemic dependence. The motto of the project is that epistemic dependence is possible without heteronomy, without coercion and without negative influences on the intellectual lives of epistemic agents. The sort of compatibility defended in the project has a double basis: (i) how dependences are established, this is to say how we get practices that contribute to the integration of external authority and resources in cognitive agency, and whose stability is preserved by the participation of agents; and (ii) a conception of epistemic agency according to which agents govern their epistemic life in constant interactions with others and are guided by a sensitivity to the norms enacted in environments of dependence.
The project is structured in three main goals and six work-packages. The goals are the following:
(O1) To review the different models of intellectual autonomy and examine whether some of their traditional assumptions offer a viable path towards making autonomy and dependence compatible and providing a justification for the value of autonomy in relation to other epistemic and intellectual values.
(O2) To face some of the challenges that, in principle, arise from the recognition of epistemic dependence, in particular in three areas: testimony; the outsourcing of cognitive tasks and epistemic evaluations onto technological devices; and the design of complex epistemic environments.
(O3) To formulate an ethics of belief as an intellectual ethics within a virtue epistemology framework in which intellectual autonomy keeps being essential to the capacity of self-regulation of our own beliefs.
Our investigation will be organized in the following work-packages:
(1) Intellectual autonomy: history and implications.
(2) Testimony, credibility, and recognition.
(3) Cognitive enhancement, outsourcing, and autonomy.
(4) Epistemic deference (where we will study practices of deference to experts, epistemic paternalism and epistemic advocacy).
(5) Rational authority and doxastic responsibility.
(6) Ethical and epistemic dimensions of intellectual autonomy.
KEYWORDS: Intellectual Autonomy, testimony, epistemic dependence, rational authority, cognitive enhancement, ethics of belief
Javier González de Prado
Adam J. Carter
ARGUMENTATIVE PRACTICES AND PRAGMATICS OF REASONS (PGC2018-095941-B-100).
IP: Hubert Marraud. 2019 – 2021
Insofar as arguing can be defined as presenting something to someone as a reason for something else, the theory of argumentation is linked to the study of reasons (their nature, types, relationship to action, etc.) which is part of the philosophical tradition. One would expect that there would be an intense exchange between the theory of argumentation and the theory of reasons (or, more precisely, normative reasons), but in fact, these two disciplines have developed ignoring each other. Connecting them demands to understand that the key concept in the study of argumentation is that of counting as a reason for, and not, as in the formal-logical tradition, that of being derivable from. We could say, from the point of view adopted in this project, that a reason for something is that which can be presented in this way within the framework of a communicative exchange and accepted as such by the participants. This approach is also in line with the priority of argument over reasoning recently defended by several authors on the basis of cognitive considerations.
1. Theoretical reasoning vs. practical reasoning. The role of weighting in theoretical reason and practical reason, the incomparability between reasons and arguments, weighting in counter-argumentation, and the strength and sufficiency of arguments are examined. Similarly, questions relating to the function, purposes and aims of argumentation are addressed, bringing together the various definitions and uses of argument and classifying them in the contexts of politics, advertising and philosophy.
2. Justification vs. explanatory reasons. The project studies The role of justification and explanation in both theoretical and practical reasoning. Various argumentative approaches to abduction are considered and a Toulminian approach to abduction is explored.
APPLY: NEW TRENDS IN APPLIED PHILOSOPHY. FROM THEORETICAL PHILOSOPHY TO NEW CHALLENGES OF SOCIETY (RED2018-102695-T)
IP: Jesús Vega Encabo.
The APPLY network: New Trends in Applied Philosophy. From Theoretical Philosophy to New Challenges of Society aims to consolidate the synergy between groups belonging to the Madrid Philosophy Network platform, as well as promoting and internationalizing its research in applied philosophy through collaboration with other European and American groups with same philosophical interests. With APPLY we aim to achieve four objectives:
(1) To carry out innovative research in applied philosophy that results in a better understanding of contemporary social and political phenomena, in line with new trends in epistemology, experimental philosophy and philosophy of science, and therefore transcends (but at the same time includes) what has been the paradigm within applied philosophy until now: applied ethics.
(2) To consolidate the synergy between the participating groups belonging to the recently created Madrid Philosophy Network platform, which includes around 50 researchers and, in this way, consolidate an area of applied philosophy research in Spain around this platform to establish lasting collaborations with other research groups in the country.
(3) To make Madrid a European centre of attraction for applied philosophy through three mechanisms that will encourage research on the subject and exponentially increase its visibility: (i) creation of the Madrid Philosophy Network platform (realized); (ii) request for this promotion action for the creation of the APPLY network, that if successful, the conditions are established for (iii) a further application for a COST action by the European Commission together with national and international groups participants as a natural continuation of the synergy generated by this application.
(4) To improve the public image of philosophy through (i) the dissemination of the results of APPLY during the two years of the dynamic action, as well as (ii) the creation of accessible content for the transfer of knowledge that will remain after the end of the project. The ultimate aim of both actions is to successfully convincing the general public of the need, but above all of the usefulness, of philosophical research in identifying, understanding and addressing key phenomena in social and political life.
PUBLIC CONTROVERSY: AN ANALYSIS FROM SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY (Awarded by BBVA – Becas Leonardo a Investigadores y Creadores Culturales 2019)
IP: Fernando Broncano-Berrocal
A public controversy is a public disagreement where the beliefs of large portions of society are divided about a controversial topic (abortion, euthanasia, immigration, etc.), very often in ways that arise hard feelings and conflicts of different kinds. A fundamental question, though a largely unexplored one, concerns the norms that allow to evaluate and criticize the beliefs and responses of the parties involved in a public controversy. The purpose of this project is to fill this lacuna by developing a new theoretical approach on the epistemology of disagreement, which will lead to a new way of theorizing about disagreement broadly conceived. It will also approach the different ways of subverting truth that are applied in public controversies, such as lies, deliberate ignorance, disinformation, bullshit or propaganda.
NEW PERSPECTIVES IN EPISTEMIC RISK (PGC2018-098805-B-I00). Generación de Conocimiento 2018 Grant.
IP: Fernando Broncano-Berrocal (with Jesús Navarro).
New Perspectives on Epistemic Risk, aims to investigate how both truth-related risk and the other novel varieties of epistemic risk (as well as further varieties that might be distinguished in the course of investigation) bear on several ongoing debates in epistemology, such as (1) virtue epistemology and performance normativity; (2) the analysis of knowledge and the role of epistemic luck; (3) knowledge closure and the safety principle; (4) the epistemology of testimony, and (5) the debate on the ethics of belief regarding the twin epistemic goals of attaining truth and avoiding error.
Although some work has been done on distinguishing types of epistemic risk and on analyzing their implications for those debates in epistemology, we believe that further investigation is required to fully understand the role that epistemic risk plays in such debates as well as to draw further implications in them. Moreover, we believe that the centrality of the notion of risk to epistemological theorizing does not, and should not, reduce to the varieties of epistemic risk already distinguished in the literature, nor to the debates previously glossed.
Indeed, we think that the epistemological literature lacks a systematic investigation of the whole spectrum of varieties of epistemic risk and implications thereof. Our research project, New Perspectives on Epistemic Risk, aims to fill this lacuna by further investigating the role of epistemic risk and its consequences in the debates we have discussed, by distinguishing new varieties of epistemic risk, and by identifying new epistemological debates where these may have an impact on, especially in the field of social epistemology. More schematically, the two main aims of the project are the following:
(1) To provide an exhaustive taxonomy of forms of epistemic risk in which new varieties will be distinguished and existing ones will be classified.
(2) More importantly, to carry out a thorough investigation of the relevance and implications of this taxonomy of types of epistemic risk for central questions in epistemology, including the topics already mentioned as well as new ones.
RUTTER – MAKING THE EARTH GLOBAL: EARLY RUTTERS AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF A GLOBAL CONCEPT OF THE EARTH (ERC Advanced Grant 833438).
IP: Henrique Leitao
Senior Researcher: Antonio Sanchez
Nautical rutters (and ship’s logbooks) are technical documents that collect and analyze critical information for the successful accomplishment of oceanic navigation. This includes elements of strict nautical nature (courses, distances, and latitudes), as well as information on oceanography (currents and tides), meteorology (winds and storms), geography, geophysics (magnetic declination) and the natural world.
Their unique value lies not only in the fact that they are exceptional historical repositories of information about the world on a planetary scale but, more importantly, that they document the emergence of global concepts about the earth. In fact, no earlier documents contain information about the earth on a comparable worldwide scale. Thus, their historical value is peerless.
Using these exceptional, yet poorly known sources, the main objective of this project is to write a narrative of the scaling up of a scientific description of the earth in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from the lived experience of traveling and observing the earth in long-distance sea voyages. As a preliminary task, a systematic search, identification and classification of the information contained in early modern Iberian rutters and ship’s logbooks will be performed. This will be followed by an extensive multidisciplinary study aiming at radically improving our present knowledge of the historical process that led to the formation of global concepts about the earth.