Middlebury College, USA
Spring Term 2011
Social Construction, Epistemic Value, and Scientific Understanding
Kareem Khalifa (Ph.D. Emory University) is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Middlebury College. His research applies recent developments in epistemology—particularly social epistemology and discussions of epistemic value—to discussions about explanation and scientific realism in the philosophy of science.
At the Center, Kareem hopes to engage scholars in the social studies of science, epistemology, and philosophy of science by developing and defending a new variant of social constructivism. His view differs from previous positions flying under the banner of social constructivism in privileging the social dependence of epistemic value over the social relativity of metaphysical concepts or standards of rationality. Standing at the core of his position is a new model of explanation that places social relations ahead of logical or causal ones, and that serves as the proper aim of science. As a result, Khalifa’s position challenges realism and earlier brands of antirealism, for it claims that science aims for explanatory understanding, even if this involves forfeiting truth or antirealist desiderata such as empirical success.
When not defending unpopular philosophical views, Kareem spends a good deal of time composing and performing avant-garde music that is perhaps even more unpopular. His compositions for dance have been performed from Austria to the Dominican Republic, and he regularly plays bass, guitar, electronic devices, and the oud (a Middle Eastern lute), largely in freely improvised settings. Other interests include cooking, watching movies, and following his favorite sports teams, including the New York Yankees, the New York Giants, and the New York Knicks.