Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment

New York: OUP USA (2004)
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Bishop and Trout here present a unique and provocative new approach to epistemology. Their approach aims to liberate epistemology from the scholastic debates of standard analytic epistemology, and treat it as a branch of the philosophy of science. The approach is novel in its use of cost-benefit analysis to guide people facing real reasoning problems and in its framework for resolving normative disputes in psychology. Based on empirical data, Bishop and Trout show how people can improve their reasoning by relying on Statistical Prediction Rules. They then develop and articulate the positive core of the book. Their view, Strategic Reliabilism, claims that epistemic excellence consists in the efficient allocation of cognitive resources to reliable reasoning strategies, applied to significant problems. The last third of the book develops the implications of this view for standard analytic epistemology; for resolving normative disputes in psychology; and for offering practical, concrete advice on how this theory can improve real people's reasoning. This is a truly distinctive and controversial work that spans many disciplines and will speak to an unusually diverse group, including people in epistemology, philosophy of science, decision theory, cognitive and clinical psychology, and ethics and public policy.



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This introductory chapter presents an overview of the subsequent chapters in this book which will discuss topics such as epistemological theory, Statistical Prediction Rules, Strategic Reliabilism, and Standard Analytic Epistemology.

Laying Our Cards on the Table

This chapter begins by giving two reasons as to why epistemology is important: epistemology guides reasoning, and people don't fully appreciate the risks and dangers of poor reasoning the importance of epistemology. It then introduces the basic motives and methods of the epistemology devel... see more

Strategic Reliabilism: The Costs and Benefits of Excellent Judgment

Strategic Reliabilism addresses resource allocation considerations within a cost-benefit framework. However, there are serious reasons to worry about the feasibility of a cost-benefit approach to epistemology. First, there are serious general objections to cost-benefit analyses; and second... see more

Strategic Reliabilism: Epistemic Significance

This chapter offers a framework for understanding significance that tolerates our incomplete knowledge of the conditions for human well-being. Topics discussed include the role of significance in Strategic Reliabilism, a reason-based approach to significance, and the potential unavailabili... see more


This chapter presents some concluding thoughts. It identifies three challenges that remain in the construction of a naturalistic epistemology. First, an effective epistemology needs to continue to discover handy new heuristics that help us reason reliably about significant matters. Second,... see more

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Author Profiles

J. D. Trout
Loyola University, Chicago
Michael Bishop
Florida State University

Citations of this work

Experimental Philosophy and Philosophical Intuition.Ernest Sosa - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):99-107.
Against Arguments From Reference.Ron Mallon, Edouard Machery, Shaun Nichols & Stephen Stich - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2):332 - 356.
The Past and Future of Experimental Philosophy.Thomas Nadelhoffer & Eddy Nahmias - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 10 (2):123 – 149.

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