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)
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)
The central mission of cognitive science is to reveal the real nature of the mind, however familiar or foreign that nature may be to naive preconceptions. The existence of naive conceptions is also important, however. Prescientific thought and language contain concepts of the mental, and these concepts deserve attention from cognitive science. Just as scientific psychology studies folk physics (McCloskey 1983, Hayes 1985), viz., the common understanding (or misunderstanding) of physical phenomena, so it must study folk psychology, the common understanding (...) of mental states. This subfield of scientific psychology is what I mean by the phrase 'the psychology of folk psychology'. (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)
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)
Theories of embodied cognition abound in the literature, but it is often unclear how to understand them. We offer several interpretations of embodiment, the most interesting being the thesis that mental representations in bodily formats (B-formats) have an important role in cognition. Potential B-formats include motoric, somatosensory, affective and interoceptive formats. The literature on mirroring and related phenomena provides support for a limited-scope version of embodied social cognition under the B-format interpretation. It is questionable, however, whether such a thesis can (...) be extended. We show the limits of embodiment in social 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)
This is the most up-to-date collection of essays by the leading proponent of process reliabilism, refining and clarifying that theory and critiquing its rivals. The volume features important essays on the internalism/externalism debate, epistemic value, the intuitional methodology of philosophy, and social epistemology.
One of the most fruitful interdisciplinary boundaries in contemporary scholarship is that between philosophy and cognitive science. Now that solid empirical results about the activities of the human mind are available, it is no longer necessary for philosophers to practice armchair psychology.In this short, accessible, and entertaining book, Alvin Goldman presents a masterly survey of recent work in cognitive science that has particular relevance to philosophy. Besides providing a valuable review of the most suggestive work in cognitive and social psychology, (...) Goldman demonstrates conclusively that the best work in philosophy in a surprising number of different fields—including philosophy of science, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics as well as philosophy of mind—must take into account empirical breakthroughs in psychology.One of those rare texts that will also be useful for professionals, Philosophical Applications of Cognitive Science is appropriate for students in a wide range of philosophy courses. It will also interest researchers and students in psychology who are intrigued by the wider theoretical implications of their work. (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)
Timothy Williamson’s project in Knowledge and Its Limits (Williamson, 2000)1 includes proposals for substantial revisions in the received approach to epistemology. One received view is that knowledge is conceptualized in terms of a conjunction of factors that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for knowing. A central aim of epistemology is to state such necessary and sufficient conditions. Against this received view, Williamson argues that a necessary but insufficient condition need not be a conjunct of a non-circular necessary and sufficient (...) condition. Although being coloured is a necessary but insufficient condition for being red, we cannot state a necessary and sufficient condition for being red by conjoining being coloured with other properties specified without reference to red. Neither the equation ‘Red = coloured + X’ nor the equation ‘Knowledge = true belief + X’ need have a non-circular solution. (3) Williamson further argues that we have inductive reasons for thinking that no analysis of the concept knows of the standard kind is correct. The inductive reasons are simply the history of failed attempts at such “factorizing” or “decompositional” analyses. Williamson not only rejects the prospect of explaining knowledge in terms of belief, justification, and evidence, but he proposes to reverse the order of explanation. That order of explanation has been reversed in this book. The concept knows is fundamental, the primary implement of epistemological inquiry. (185) It is not altogether easy, however, to reconcile this radical program with other things Williamson says in the book. In particular, the book contains two rather unrelated accounts of knowing, and one of these accounts appeals to some of the same ingredients that traditional (or semi-traditional) analysts have used in the past. The first account, which appears in Chapter 1, says that knowing is the most general factive stative propositional attitude. The account is presented in terms of three conditions: (1) If Φ is an FMSO [factive mental state operator], from ‘S Φs that A’ one may infer ‘A’.. (shrink)
Social epistemology is a many-splendored subject. Different theorists adopt different approaches and the options are quite diverse, often orthogonal to one another. The approach I favor is to examine social practices in terms of their impact on knowledge acquisition . This has at least two virtues: it displays continuity with traditional epistemology, which historically focuses on knowledge, and it intersects with the concerns of practical life, which are pervasively affected by what people know or don't know. In making this choice, (...) I am not blind to the allure of alternative approaches. In this paper I explain and motivate the knowledge-centered approach by contrasting it with a newly emerging alternative that has a definite appeal of its own. According to this alternative, the chief dimension of social epistemological interest would be rationality rather than knowledge. (shrink)
Reliabilism is a general approach to epistemology that emphasizes the truth conduciveness of a belief forming process, method, or other epistemologically relevant factor. The reliability theme appears both in theories of knowledge and theories of justification. ‘Reliabilism’ is sometimes used broadly to refer to any theory of knowledge or justification that emphasizes truth getting or truth indicating properties. These include theories originally proposed under different labels, such as ‘tracking’ theories. More commonly, ‘reliabilism’ is used narrowly to refer to process reliabilism (...) about justification. This entry discusses reliabilism in both broad and narrow senses but concentrates on reliability theories of justified belief, especially process reliabilism. (shrink)
While objective values need not be intrinsically motivating, need not actually motivate us, they would determine what we ought to pursue and protect. They would provide reasons for actions. Objective values would come in degrees, and more objective value would provide stronger reasons. It follows that, if objective value exists, we ought to maximize it in the world. But virtually no one acts with that goal in mind. Furthermore, objective value would exist independently of our subjective valuings. But we have (...) no way of measuring amounts of such values independently of the ways we value objects. While a subjectivist can account for mistaken values, a fully impersonal viewpoint, from which objective values would appear, seems instead to cause all values to disappear. Nor does the moral point of view, which requires more impartiality than agents usually exhibit, reveal fully objective values. The paper closes with an examination of the most widely endorsed candidates for states having positive and negative objective values: pleasures and pains. It concludes again that, once we adjust for worthiness of the object and desert of the subject for such states, there is no way to measure their supposed objective value. (shrink)
This is a unique collection of new and recently-published articles which debate the merits of virtue-theoretic approaches to the core epistemological issues of knowledge and justified belief. The readings all contribute to our understanding of the relative importance, for a theory of justified belief, of the reliability of our cognitive faculties and of the individuals responsibility in gathering and weighing evidence. Highlights of the readings include direct exchanges between leading exponents of this approach and their critics.
This paper supports the basic integrity of the folk psychological conception of consciousness and its importance in cognitive theorizing. Section 1 critically examines some proposed definitions of consciousness, and argues that the folk- psychological notion of phenomenal consciousness is not captured by various functional-relational definitions. Section 2 rebuts the arguments of several writers who challenge the very existence of phenomenal consciousness, or the coherence or tenability of the folk-psychological notion of awareness. Section 3 defends a significant role for phenomenal consciousness (...) in the execution of a certain cognitive task, viz., classification of one's own mental states. Execution of this task, which is part of folk psychologizing, is taken as a datum in scientific psychology. It is then argued that the most promising sort of scientific model of the self-ascription of mental states is one that posits the kinds of phenomenal properties invoked by folk psychology. Cognitive science and neuroscience can of course refine and improve upon the folk understanding of consciousness, awareness, and mental states generally. But the folk-psychological constructs should not be jettisoned; they have a role to play in cognitive theorizing. (shrink)
At the heart of aesthetics lie fundamental questions about value in art and the objectivity of aesthetic valuation. A theory of aesthetic value must explain how the properties of artworks contribute to the values derived from contemplating and appreciating works of art. When someone passes judgment on a work of art, just what is it that is happening, and how can such judgments be criticized and defended?In this concise survey, intended for advanced undergraduate students of aesthetics, Alan Goldman focuses on (...) the question of aesthetic value, using many practical examples from painting, music, and literature to make his case. Although he treats a wide variety of views, he argues for a nonrealist view of aesthetic value, showing that the personal element can never be factored out of evaluative aesthetic judgments and explaining why this is so. At the same time, he argues for certain common effects of highly esteemed artworks.Along the way Goldman considers such key topics as interpretation, representation, expression, and taste. His text will be a valuable contribution to the teaching of aesthetics as well as to the understanding of these topics on the part of students and scholars in philosophy and the arts. (shrink)
I begin with some familiar conceptions of epistemic relativism. One kind of epistemic relativism is descriptive pluralism. This is the simple, non-normative thesis that many different communities, cultures, social networks, etc. endorse different epistemic systems (E-systems), i.e., different sets of norms, standards, or principles for forming beliefs and other doxastic states. Communities try to guide or regulate their members’ credence-forming habits in a variety of different, i.e., incompatible, ways. Although there may be considerable overlap across cultures in certain types of (...) epistemic norms (e.g., norms for perceptual belief), there are sharp differences across groups in other types of epistemic norms. (shrink)
The answer to the title question is “No.” The first section argues, using the example of Huckleberry Finn, that rational agents need not be motivated by their explicit judgments of rightness and wrongness. Section II rejects a plausible argument to the conclusion that rational agents must have some moral concerns. The third section clarifies the relevant concept of irrationality and argues that moral incoherence does not equate with this common relevant concept. Section IV questions a rational requirement for prudential concern (...) and whether a requirement for moral concern would follow from it. Section V examines the rationality of amoralists and partial amoralists, and Sect. VI closes with speculation on why there might seem to be a rational requirement to be morally motivated. (shrink)
This remarkably clear and comprehensive account of empirical knowledge will be valuable to all students of epistemology and philosophy. The author begins from an explanationist analysis of knowing—a belief counts as knowledge if, and only if, its truth enters into the best explanation for its being held. Defending common sense and scientific realism within the explanationist framework, Alan Goldman provides a new foundational approach to justification. The view that emerges is broadly empiricist, counteracting the recently dominant trend that rejects that (...) framework entirely. Topics treated include the Gettier problem, the nature of explanation and inductive inference, the justification of foundations for knowledge in terms of inference to the best explanation, the possibility of realist interpretations of contemporary science, reference, and the relations between empirical psychology and epistemology. Professor Goldman defends the need for a foundational theory of justification and presents a version that refutes standard criticisms of that doctrine. His defense of realism takes into account contemporary advances in semantics and philosophy of science. It attempts to clarify the kinds of skeptical argument the philosopher must take seriously, without succumbing to them. While recent epistemology has tended to dismiss the traditional foundational approach, it has not provided a suitable alternative. Goldman breaks new ground by adapting that approach within his explanationist, inductive theory. (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)