Fall 2009

The Social Construction of Knowledge

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-62


Nishiten Shah (Section 01)


It is rare for a philosophical idea to command widespread acceptance.  Over the past twenty years or so, however, a remarkable consensus has formed--in the humanities and social sciences--around the thesis that knowledge is socially constructed.  What does it mean to say that our knowledge that the earth is a sphere or that murder is wrong is "socially constructed"?  Is it a plausible thesis about all knowledge or just about particular sub-domains of knowledge, such as morality?  Unfortunately, advocates of this thesis rarely attempt to answer these questions.  They tend to believe that the thesis is so obvious that it needs no explanation or defense.  As we shall see, there in fact are significant obstacles to both formulating and defending the thesis that knowledge is in some interesting sense a creature of our construction. 

Requisite: Two courses in Philosophy or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Shah.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009