Jacob (2008) raises several problems for the alleged link between mirroring and mindreading. This response argues that the best mirroring-mindreading thesis would claim that mirror processes cause, rather than constitute, selected acts of mindreading. Second, the best current evidence for mirror-based mindreading is not found in the motoric domain but in the domains of emotion and sensation, where the evidence (ignored by Jacob) is substantial. Finally, simulation theory should distinguish low-level simulation (mirroring) and high-level simulation (involving pretense or imagination). Jacob (...) implies that bi-level simulationism creates an unbridgeable ‘gap’ in intention reading, but this is not a compelling challenge. (shrink)
What is the connection between mirror processes and mindreading? The paper begins with definitions of mindreading and of mirroring processes. It then advances four theses: (T1) mirroring processes in themselves do not constitute mindreading; (T2) some types of mindreading (“low-level” mindreading) are based on mirroring processes; (T3) not all types of mindreading are based on mirroring (“high-level” mindreading); and (T4) simulation-based mindreading includes but is broader than mirroring-based mindreading. Evidence for the causal role of mirroring in mindreading is drawn from (...) intention attribution, emotion attribution, and pain attribution. Arguments for the limits of mirroring-based mindreading are drawn from neuroanatomy, from the lesser liability to error of mirror-based mindreading, from the role of imagination in some types of mindreading, and from the restricted range of mental states involved in mirroring. “High-level” simulational mindreading is based on enactment imagination, perspective shifts, or self-projection, which are found in activities like prospection and memory as well as theory of mind. The role of cortical midline structures in executing these activities is examined. (shrink)
For most of their respective existences, reliabilism and evidentialism (that is, process reliabilism and mentalist evidentialism) have been rivals. They are generally viewed as incompatible, even antithetical, theories of justification.1 But a few people are beginning to re-think this notion. Perhaps an ideal theory would be a hybrid of the two, combining the best elements of each theory. Juan Comesana (forthcoming) takes this point of view and constructs a position called “Evidentialist Reliabilism.” He tries to show how each theory can (...) profit by borrowing elements from the other. Comesana concentrates on reliabilism’s problems and how it might be improved by infusions from evidentialism. This paper follows a similar tack. My emphasis, however, is the reverse of Comesana’s. I highlight problems for evidentialism and show how it could benefit by incorporating reliabilist themes. I am not sanguine that evidentialists will see it my way. They might even view my proposals as an insidious attempt to convert evidentialists to reliabilism. Well, I won’t debate the best way to formulate this paper’s recipe. At any rate, it began with the idea (which anteceded my reading of Comesana) of creating a synthesis of reliabilism and evidentialism. It retains significant strands of that idea, although the synthesis theme does not pervade the entire paper. What is mentalist evidentialism? Its original formulation was succinct. (shrink)
A debate is raging over philosophical methodology. It is a debate between philosophical traditionalists and science-oriented philosophical naturalists concerning the legitimacy of the widespread use of intuitions in philosophy. Not everyone finds the term ‘intuition’ the best label for what philosophers rely upon in the relevant sector of their practice. Instead of “intuitions” some prefer to talk of intuitive judgments, thought experiments, or what have you. Nonetheless, “intuition” is the most commonly used term in the territory, so I shall not (...) abandon it, though other terms will be used as well. Described fairly neutrally, the philosophical activity in question consists of specifying a hypothetical scenario and rendering an intuitive judgment about the correctness or incorrectness of classifying it under a stipulated heading. Does a given predicate ‘F’ apply to an event, an individual, a pair of objects, etc. in the scenario? Putting the question less linguistically, is a certain property or relation exemplified in the scenario? The central question in the debate is whether, when intuitions or intuitive judgments are formed about such cases, they provide good evidence for some type of philosophical conclusion. For instance, are they good evidence for a conclusion of the form “Case C is/is not an instance of F”? Philosophers’ ultimate interest is not in cases per se. Cases are examined as a means to determining the content or composition of the referent of ‘F’ (where the referent may be a property, a kind, a meaning, or a concept). But this further determination is not in the foreground -- though it definitely cannot be ignored. (shrink)
Social epistemology is an expanding sector of epistemology. There are many directions of expansion, however, and the rationales for them may vary. To illustrate the scope of social epistemology, consider the following topics that have occupied either whole issues or single articles in Episteme, A Journal of Social Epistemology: (1) testimony, (2) peer disagreement, (3) epistemic relativism, (4) epistemic approaches to democracy, (5) evidence in the law, (6) the epistemology of mass collaboration (e.g., Wikipedia), and (7) judgment aggregation. How can (...) social epistemology (SE) be characterized so that all of these topics fit under its umbrella? Why does each topic qualify as epistemology and in what respects is it social? This paper begins by proposing a tripartite division of SE. Under this classification scheme the first variety of SE is highly continuous with traditional epistemology, whereas the second and third varieties diverge from the tradition to a lesser or greater extent. The divergences are not so great, however, as to disqualify their inclusion under the social epistemology heading. After explaining the proposed classification, the paper examines in greater depth the third variety of SE, systems-oriented SE, which is the least familiar and most adventurous form of SE. (shrink)
What is social epistemology? Or what might it be? According to one perspective, social epistemology is a branch of traditional epistemology that studies epistemic properties of individuals that arise from their relations to others, as well as epistemic properties of groups or social systems. A simple example (of the first sort) is the transmission of knowledge or justification from one person to another. Studying such interpersonal epistemic relations is a legitimate part of epistemology. A very different perspective would associate ‘social (...) epistemology’ with movements in postmodernism, social studies of science, or cultural studies that aim to replace traditional epistemology with radically different questions, premises, or procedures. Although these enquiries examine the social contexts of belief and thought, they generally seek to debunk or reconfigure conventional epistemic concepts rather than illuminate the nature and conditions of epistemic success or failure. Under the first construal social epistemology is a bona fide part of the mainstream, and hence ‘real’ epistemology. Under the second construal, it is not part of epistemology at all. If protagonists of the latter-day movements marketed their products under the guise of epistemology, they would be imposters. Their products are not real epistemology. ‘Is social epistemology real epistemology?’ is a question posed by William Alston (2005). He raises it en passant, while noting that epistemology’s boundaries are controversial, drawn differently by different thinkers. To illustrate his point, he suggests that much of the material in my book on social epistemology, Knowledge in a Social World (Goldman 1999), ‘would be rejected by many contemporary epistemologists as ‘‘not real epistemology’’ ’ (Alston 2005: 5). The epistemologists in question, says Alston, would relegate much of this so-called social epistemology to sociology, social psychology, or other social sciences, or perhaps to the philosophical foundations thereof.. (shrink)
Many current programs for cognitive science sail under the banner of “embodied cognition.” These programs typically seek to distance themselves from standard cognitive science. The present proposal for a conception of embodied cognition is less radical than most, indeed, quite compatible with many versions of traditional cognitive science. Its rationale is based on two elements, each of which is theoretically plausible and empirically well-founded. The first element invokes the idea of “bodily formats,” i.e., representational codes primarily utilized in forming interoceptive (...) or directive representations of one’s bodily states and activities. The second element appeals to wideranging evidence that the brain reuses or redeploys cognitive processes having different original uses. When the redeployment theme is applied to bodily formats of representation, they jointly provide for the possibility that body-coded cognition is a very pervasive sector of cognition. (shrink)
Abstract: Pierre Jacob (2008) raises several problems for the alleged link between mirroring and mindreading. This response argues that the best mirroring-mindreading thesis would claim that mirror processes cause, rather than constitute, selected acts of mindreading. Second, the best current evidence for mirror-based mindreading is not found in the motoric domain but in the domains of emotion and sensation, where the evidence (ignored by Jacob) is substantial. Finally, simulation theory should distinguish low-level simulation (mirroring) and high-level simulation (involving pretense or (...) imagination). Jacob implies that bi-level simulationism creates an unbridgeable 'gap' in intention reading, but this is not a compelling challenge. (shrink)
Sherrilyn Roush’s Tracking Truth (2005) is an impressive, precisioncrafted work. Although it sets out to rehabilitate the epistemological theory of Robert Nozick’s Philosophical Explanations (1981), its departures from Nozick’s line are extensive and original enough that it should be regarded as a distinct form of epistemological externalism. Roush’s mission is to develop an externalism that averts the problems and counterexamples encountered not only by Nozick’s theory but by other varieties of externalism as well. Roush advances both a theory of knowledge (...) and a theory of evidence; I focus entirely on knowledge. I shall pinpoint a few respects in which Roush’s theory is not wholly successful. In particular, it works less well than process- (or method-) oriented externalisms like process reliabilism. Nozick’s initial tracking account of knowledge was formulated as follows. (shrink)
1. Mainstream Epistemology and Social Epistemology Epistemology has had a strongly individualist orientation, at least since Descartes. Knowledge, for Descartes, starts with the fact of one’s own thinking and with oneself as subject of that thinking. Whatever else can be known, it must be known by inference from one’s own mental contents. Achieving such knowledge is an individual, rather than a collective, enterprise. Descartes’s successors largely followed this lead, so the history of epistemology, down to our own time, has been (...) a predominantly individualist affair. There are scattered exceptions. A handful of historical epistemologists gave brief space to the question of knowing, or believing justifiably, based on the testimony of others. Testimony-based knowledge would be one step into a more social epistemology. Hume took it for granted that we regularly rely on the factual statements of others, and argued that it is reasonable to do so if we have adequate reasons for trusting the veracity of these sources. However, reasons for such trust, according to Hume, must rest on personal observations of people’s veracity or reliability.1 Thomas Reid took a different view. He claimed that our natural attitude of trusting others is reasonable even if we know little if anything about others’ reliability. Testimony, at least sincere testimony, is always prima facie credible (Reid, 1970: 240-241). Here we have two philosophers of the 18th century both endorsing at least one element of what nowadays is called “social epistemology.” But these points did not much occupy either Hume’s or Reid’s corpus of philosophical writing; nor were these passages much studied or cited by their contemporaries and immediate successors. Fast forward now to the second half of the 20th century. Here we find intellectual currents pointing toward the socializing of epistemology. Several of these movements, however, were centered outside of philosophy and never adopted the label of “social epistemology,” or adopted it only belatedly. (shrink)
It is a widely accepted doctrine in epistemology that knowledge has greater value than mere true belief. But although epistemologists regularly pay homage to this doctrine, evidence for it is shaky. Is it based on evidence that ordinary people on the street make evaluative comparisons of knowledge and true belief, and consistently rate the former ahead of the latter? Do they reveal such a preference by some sort of persistent choice behavior? Neither of these scenarios is observed. Rather, epistemologists come (...) to this conclusion because they have some sort of conception or theory of what knowledge is, and they find reasons why people should rate knowledge, so understood, ahead of mere true belief. But what if these epistemological theories are wrong? Then the assumption that knowledge is more valuable than true belief might be in trouble. We don’t wish to take a firm position against the thesis that knowledge is more valuable than true belief. But we begin this paper by arguing that there is one sense of ‘know’ under which the thesis cannot be right. In particular, there seems to be a sense of ‘know’ in which it means, simply, ‘believe truly.’ If this is correct, then knowledge—in this weak sense of the term—cannot be more valuable than true belief. What evidence is there for a weak sense of ‘knowledge’ in which it is equivalent to ‘true belief’? Knowledge seems to contrast with ignorance. Not only do knowledge and ignorance contrast with one another but they seem to exhaust the alternatives, at least for a specified person and fact. Given a true proposition p, Diane either knows p or is ignorant of it. The same point can be expressed using rough synonyms of ‘know.’ Diane is either aware of (the fact that) p or is ignorant of it. She is either cognizant of p or ignorant of it. She either possesses the information that p or she is uninformed (ignorant) of it. To illustrate these suggestions, consider a case discussed by John Hawthorne (2002). If I ask you how many people in the room know that Vienna is the capital of Austria, you will tally up the number of people in the room who possess the information that Vienna is the capital of Austria.. (shrink)
I wish to advance a certain program for doing metaphysics, a program in which cognitive science would play an important role.1 This proposed ingredient is absent from most contemporary metaphysics. There are one or two local parts of metaphysics where a role for cognitive science is commonly accepted, but I advocate a wider range of application. I begin by laying out the general program and its rationale, with selected illustrations. Then I explore in some detail a single application: the ontology (...) of events. I do not push hard for any particular ontological conclusion, about either events or any other topic. The focus is methodology, not a particular output of the methodology. Here is a recently published characterization of the metaphysical enterprise, one that probably captures orthodox practice pretty well and to which I take no exception. (shrink)
Intuitions play a critical role in analytical philosophical activity. But do they qualify as genuine evidence for the sorts of conclusions philosophers seek? Skeptical arguments against intuitions are reviewed, and a variety of ways of trying to legitimate them are considered. A defense is offered of their evidential status by showing how their evidential status can be embedded in a naturalistic framework.
Recent studies of emotion mindreading reveal that for three emotions, fear, disgust, and anger, deficits in face-based recognition are paired with deficits in the production of the same emotion. What type of mindreading process would explain this pattern of paired deficits? The simulation approach and the theorizing approach are examined to determine their compatibility with the existing evidence. We conclude that the simulation approach offers the best explanation of the data. What computational steps might be used, however, in simulation-style emotion (...) detection? Four alternative models are explored: a generate-and-test model, a reverse simulation model, a variant of the reverse simulation model that employs an “as if” loop, and an unmediated resonance model. (shrink)
The evaluation of arguments and argumentation is best understood epistemologically. Epistemic circularity is not formally defective but it may be epistemologically objectionable. Sorenson's doubts about the syntactic approach to circularity are endorsed with qualifications. One explanation of an argument's goodness is its ability to produce justified belief in its conclusion by means of justified belief in its premises, but matters are not so simple for interpersonal argumentation. Even when an argument's premises and conclusion are justified for a speaker, this justifiedness (...) may not be transmissible to every hearer. Still, an epistemic approaeh is instructive. Arguing in enthymemes can be legitimate, e.g., because enthymemes can help produce justified persuasion in an audience that supplies the missing premises. (shrink)
How can we know? How can we attain justified belief? These traditional questions in epistemology have inspired philosophers for centuries. Now, in this exceptional work, Alvin Goldman, distinguished scholar and leader in the fields of epistemology and mind, approaches such inquiries as legitimate methods or "pathways" to knowledge. He examines the notion of private and public knowledge, arguing for the epistemic legitimacy of private and introspective methods of gaining knowledge, yet acknowledging the equal importance of social and public mechanisms in (...) the quest for truth. Throughout, he addresses this opposition but proposes a rigorous framework that continues to resolve such contradictions, making this exciting text one of the most important contributions to the theory of knowledge in recent years. (shrink)
When a distinction is drawn between “total” knowledge and “problem-specific” knowledge, it is seen that successful users of the recognition heuristic have more problem-specific knowledge than people unable to exploit this heuristic. So it is not ignorance that makes them smart, but knowledge.
Epistemology needs a social branch to complement its traditional, ‘individualist’ branch. Like its individualist sister, social epistemology would be an evaluative enterprise. It would assess (actual and possible) social practices in terms of their propensities to promote or inhibit knowledge, where knowledge is understood in the sense of true belief. Social epistemology should examine the practices of many types of players, as well as technological and institutional structures: speakers, hearers, gate-keepers of communication (e.g., editors, publishers, referees), communication technologies and their (...) applications, and legal and economic arrangements that influence the epistemic quality of public speech. A mixture of analytical tools should be employed to assess practices in terms of their likely knowledge outcomes, tools that include Bayesian probability theory, economic theory, and empirical inquiry. (shrink)
Knowledge in a Social World offers a philosophy for the information age. Alvin Goldman explores new frontiers by creating a thoroughgoing social epistemology, moving beyond the traditional focus on solitary knowers. Against the tides of postmodernism and social constructionism Goldman defends the integrity of truth and shows how to promote it by well-designed forms of social interaction. From science to education, from law to democracy, he shows why and how public institutions should seek knowledge-enhancing practices. The result is a bold, (...) timely, and systematic treatment of the philosophical foundations of an information society. (shrink)
There are distinct but legitimate notions of both personal justification and interpersonal justification. Interpersonal justification is definable in terms of personal justification. A connection is established between good argumentation and interpersonal justification.