Social Epistemology

Lately I’ve found myself increasingly absorbed by the notion of ‘Social Epistemology‘. We are of course uniquely privileged at Warwick in having the accomplished Professor Fuller within the department, who has throughout his career, played a pivotal role in bringing this discipline to light. Engaging with his teachings have provided me with something of a coherent academic framework to interpret my own critical impulse towards Scientific authority. I’m particularly interested in the implications of this critical approach to biomedical fields such as Psychology or Cognitive Neuroscience which aspire toward establishing a comprehensive, unified understanding of the mind.

I feel this is a particularly interesting area of enquiry for the modern, secular scientific enterprise, given that this is the faculty which has historically awarded the human species its presumably privileged status above other forms of life on earth – perhaps borne out of a religious sensibility? Fuller himself reasons that the early history of science was animated by the belief held in Abrahamic faiths, that humans are created in the ‘image and likeness’ of God.  According to the critical principles outlined by Social Epistemology, If the degree of trust and authority that the public has invested in fields such as clinical psychology or neuroscience is disproportionate or misplaced, then needless to say, there follows some strong public policy implications surrounding the classification and treatment of mental illness.

Correspondingly my research project is concerned with how perspectives on the nature and treatment of mental illness are constructed in a developing country, and in particular to what extent westernized medical science versus traditional, mystified religiosity informs its treatment. In the broadest sense, I’m interested in how different models of mental health care may arise under different circumstances, as well as how they establish and uphold their authoritative legitimacy. So in this light, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some personal correspondence with Professor Fuller over the course of the year, and he’s been exceptionally helpful in addressing the queries that have arisen whilst absorbing his published work.

James MacFarlane
1st Year Undergraduate


Posted on June 8, 2011, in Comment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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