Jack Smart Lecture 2016: Cognition as a Social Skill


Most contemporary social epistemology takes as its starting point individuals with sophisticated propositional attitudes and considers (i) how those individuals depend on each other to gain (or lose) knowledge through testimony, disagreement, and the like and (ii) if, in addition to individual knowers, it is possible for groups to have knowledge.  In this paper I argue that social epistemology should be more attentive to the construction of knowers through social and cultural practices: socialization shapes our psychological and practical orientation so that we perform local social practices fluently. Connecting practical orientation to an account of ideology, I claim that to ignore the ways in which cognition is socially shaped and filtered is to allow ideology to do its work unnoticed and unimpeded.  Moreover, ideology critique cannot simply challenge belief, but must involve challenges to those practices through which we ourselves become the vehicles and embodiments of ideology.

Sally Haslanger is Ford Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies at MIT. She has published on topics in metaphysics, epistemology, critical race theory, and feminist theory.  Broadly speaking, her work links issues of social justice with contemporary work in epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. Her book Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (Oxford 2012) won the Joseph B. Gittler award for work in philosophy of the social sciences.  She has been active in promoting diversity in philosophy through several ongoing initiatives and is a co-founder of the Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute (PIKSI) in Boston.  In 2013-14, she served as the President of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division; in 2015 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The 2016 Jack Smart Lecture will be followed by a reception.


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Date & time

Wed 27 Jul 2016, 5:30pm to 7:30pm


Innovations Theatre, Anthony Low Building, 124 Eggleston Road, ANU


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