Conference: The Place of Epistemic Agents

The place of epistemic agents
Autonomy and dependence in epistemology

University Carlos III, Madrid (UC3M) -Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)
October 2-3, 2008

Among the intellectual ideals inherited from the Enlightenment, autonomy is considered the most valuable and essential in the pursuit of a rich intellectual life. But this ideal contrasts with the reality of our permanent dependence in epistemic matters. We constantly rely on others and need to place our trust in them in order to epistemically secure most of our more cherished beliefs. Some recent versions in virtue epistemology emphasize the role of the agent in the acquisition of epistemically valuable beliefs. No doubt, the cognitive character of epistemic subjects and how they are involved in the task of knowing are crucial in our understanding of the very value of knowledge. Moreover, a reflective turn suggested by certain foundationalist trends in epistemology has shaped under a new light the question of the normativity of our epistemic agency, specially in cases of judging and other active epistemic tasks performed by the subject. What is then the place we have to give to agents in epistemology? The aim of this conference is to discuss both the role of the autonomous epistemic agent in the acquisition of knowledge and the role that the dependence on others (and also on artifacts) has in our epistemic endeavors.

The following topics are of interest for the conference:
– What do we understand by epistemic autonomy?
– Is epistemic autonomy truly an individualist ideal?
– Is autonomy equivalent to epistemic self-sufficiency?
– What is it to be an epistemic agent?
– How is the character of the agents involved in the acquisition of knowledge?
– How to conceive of the cognitive integration of an epistemic subject?
– How to characterize agent-centered epistemologies in terms of autonomy of the knowers?
– How to tackle questions about epistemic responsibility and subjective justification?
– How does autonomy matter to the issue of epistemic normativity and agency?
– What do we understand by epistemic dependence?
– Is testimonial knowledge a sort of dependent knowledge?
– Is testimony in conflict with the autonomy of the knower?
– Is dependence on representational artifacts of any epistemic significance?

Confirmed speakers
Baron Reed (Northwestern University)
Ernest Sosa (Rutgers University)
Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern University)
Klemens Kappel (University of Copenhague)
Pascal Engel (Université de Genève)

Call for papers.

Papers are invited on any of the topics of the conference. Extended abstracts of no more than 1500 words should be sent to Jesús Vega ( before July 31st, 2008. The abstracts must be prepared for blind review. Acceptance will be notified before September 5th. Papers accepted will have 35 minutes for presentation.

For further information, please contact Jesús Vega ( and Fernando Broncano (
Organizing Committee:
Fernando Broncano (UC3M)
Carlos Thiebaut (UC3M)
Jesús Vega (UAM)
Alberto Rubio (UAM)
Guillermo de Eugenio (UC3M)
Mario Santos (UAM)
Scientific Committee
Carlos Thiebaut (UC3M, Madrid)
Ernest Sosa (Rutgers)
Fernando Broncano (UC3M, Madrid)
Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern University)
Jesús Vega (UAM)
Jesús Zamora Bonilla (UNED, Madrid)
Klemens Kappel (Copenhague)

The conference is organised in the framework of a project on “Epistemology of agency and epistemic practices” and of a network of researchers in Madrid under the heading Cultures, Representations, Spaces and Practices (CREP).

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