In a recent paper, Steve Fuller lambasts the analytic social epistemologist as having little understanding of how knowledge making actually works in the real world. The criticism is that the analytic approach has not made any significant progress compared to studies of knowledge in the wild.

What counterarguments are there to this position from epistemologists, social or otherwise, of an analytic bent?

  • Can we have a social-epistemology tag please?
    – paulusm
    Oct 26, 2012 at 11:22
  • 1
    are you able to elaborate on what you mean by studies in the wild? what would progress in social epistemology look like?
    – Dr Sister
    Oct 26, 2012 at 12:12
  • Well, there's the counterargument that the rest of social epistemology has been equally devoid of progress (i.e. that it is the social not the analytic that is at fault here). But I don't really think that's what Fuller is getting at.
    – Rex Kerr
    Oct 26, 2012 at 19:52
  • @seldom 1) I suppose I mean naturalistic approaches in a broad sense, including Fuller’s which is really a sociology of knowledge; 2) Good question and not sure I can answer that very well, other than to say it might provide more (actionable) insight.
    – paulusm
    Oct 27, 2012 at 9:27
  • I think I know what analytic epistemology is, but what is -social- epistemology, analytic or otherwise?
    – Mitch
    Aug 16, 2013 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


Some discussion around this has recently been published here:-


The main points I took from the discussion were:-

  1. It's not really constructive to lump together all analytic social epistemology (ASE) as the same -the field is wide and many people do lean toward an empirical approach, use practical examples and focus on applications;
  2. That said, many in ASE would benefit more from an empirical orientation and from working more closely with psychologists and philosophers of science. The "thicker" construal of the social and the inclusion of evaluative dimensions other than truth is likely to be more realistic and successful;
  3. There is nevertheless still some justification for the "pure" ASE approach as the description or characterisation of existing epistemic norms without judgement on how/whether these should/might be changed.

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