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)
Epistemology has historically focused on individual inquirers conducting their intellectual affairs in total isolation from one another. Methodological solipsism aside, however, it is incontestable that people’s opinions are massively influenced by their community and culture, by the written and spoken words of others, both past and present. This has led recent epistemologists to pay greater attention to the social dimensions of knowledge, especially to the role of testimony as a source of justification. The aim of Knowledge in a Social World (...) is to articulate a more systematic and wide-ranging conception of social epistemology, a conception that forges links with both empirical and policy-oriented disciplines that study the place of knowledge in society. On the one hand, it steers social epistemology along paths continuous with mainstream epistemology and philosophy of science; on the other, it carries epistemology into greater contact than is customary with political philosophy, legal philosophy, and such new or peripheral fields as Internet epistemology and philosophy of education. Although it never abandons the theoretical mission of epistemology, it also makes concerted forays into what may be called “applied epistemology”. (shrink)
People are minded creatures; we have thoughts, feelings and emotions. More intriguingly, we grasp our own mental states, and conduct the business of ascribing them to ourselves and others without instruction in formal psychology. How do we do this? And what are the dimensions of our grasp of the mental realm? In this book, Alvin I. Goldman explores these questions with the tools of philosophy, developmental psychology, social psychology and cognitive neuroscience. He refines an approach called simulation theory, which starts (...) from the familiar idea that we understand others by putting ourselves in their mental shoes. Can this intuitive idea be rendered precise in a philosophically respectable manner, without allowing simulation to collapse into theorizing? Given a suitable definition, do empirical results support the notion that minds literally create surrogates of other peoples mental states in the process of mindreading? Goldman amasses a surprising array of evidence from psychology and neuroscience that supports this hypothesis. (shrink)
A new class of visuomotor neuron has been recently discovered in the monkey’s premotor cortex: mirror neurons. These neurons respond both when a particular action is performed by the recorded monkey and when the same action, performed by another individual, is observed. Mirror neurons appear to form a cortical system matching observation and execution of goal-related motor actions. Experimental evidence suggests that a similar matching system also exists in humans. What might be the functional role of this matching system? One (...) possible function is to enable an organism to detect certain mental states of observed conspecifics. This function might be part of, or a precursor to, a more general mind-reading ability. Two different accounts of mind-reading have been suggested. According to “theory theory‘, mental states are represented as inferred posits of a naive theory. According to “simulation theory‘, other people’s mental states are represented by adopting their perspective: by tracking or matching their states with resonant states of one’s own. The activity of mirror neurons, and the fact that observers undergo motor facilitation in the same muscular groups as those utilized by target agents, are findings that accord well with simulation theory but would not be predicted by theory theory. (shrink)
One of the main goals of epistemologists is to provide a substantive and explanatory account of the conditions under which a belief has some desirable epistemic status (typically, justification or knowledge). According to the reliabilist approach to epistemology, any adequate account will need to mention the reliability of the process responsible for the belief, or truth-conducive considerations more generally. Historically, one major motivation for reliabilism—and one source of its enduring interest—is its naturalistic potential. According to reliabilists, epistemic properties can be (...) explained in terms of reliability, which in turn can be understood without reference to any unreduced epistemic notions, such as evidence or knowledge. This article begins by surveying some of the main forms of reliabilism, concentrating on process reliabilism as a theory of justification. It proceeds to review some of the main objections to reliabilism, and some of the responses that have been offered on the reliabilist’s behalf. After canvassing some recent developments in reliabilist epistemology, the article concludes by considering various cousins and spin-offs of reliabilist epistemology, including virtue reliabilism and various evidentialist-reliabilist hybrids. (shrink)
Mainstream epistemology is a highly theoretical and abstract enterprise. Traditional epistemologists rarely present their deliberations as critical to the practical problems of life, unless one supposes—as Hume, for example, did not—that skeptical worries should trouble us in our everyday affairs. But some issues in epistemology are both theoretically interesting and practically quite pressing. That holds of the problem to be discussed here: how laypersons should evaluate the testimony of experts and decide which of two or more rival experts is most (...) credible. It is of practical importance because in a complex, highly specialized world people are constantly confronted with situations in which, as comparative novices, they must turn to putative experts for intellectual guidance or assistance. It is of theoretical interest because the appropriate epistemic considerations are far from transparent; and it is not clear how far the problems lead to insurmountable skeptical quandaries. This paper does not argue for flat-out skepticism in this domain; nor, on the other hand, does it purport to resolve all pressures in the direction of skepticism. It is an exploratory paper, which tries to identify problems and examine some possible solutions, not to establish those solutions definitively. (shrink)
These essays by a major epistemologist reconfigure philosophical projects across a wide spectrum, from mind to metaphysics, from epistemology to social power. Several of Goldman's classic essays are included along with many newer writings. Together these trace and continue the development of the author's unique blend of naturalism and reliabilism.Part I defends the simulation approach to mentalistic ascription and explores the psychological mechanisms of ontological individuation. Part II shows why epistemology needs help from cognitive science - not only to evaluate (...) cognitive agents but also to illuminate the practices of epistemic evaluators. Parts III and IV explain how philosophical projects can be reshaped through interchange with social science. An epistemological study of scientific activity exploits the economic paradigm, and philosophical tools are applied to analyze power in society.Alvin I. Goldman is Professor of Philosophy and Research Scientist in Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona. During 1991-92 he served as President of the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division.Contents:Mind and Metaphysics. Interpretation Psychologized. Metaphysics, Mind, and Mental Science. Cognition and Modal Metaphysics. Individual Epistemology. A Causal Theory of Knowing. Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge. What Is justified Belief? Strong and Weak justification. Psychology and Philosophical Analysis. Epistemic Folkways and Scientific Epistemology. Social Epistemology. Foundations of Social Epistemics. Epistemic Paternalism: Communication and Control in Law and Society. An Economic Model of Scientific Activity and Truth Acquisition (with Moshe Shaked). Social Power. Toward a Theory of Social Power. On the Measurement of Power. (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.
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)
This paper offers a sizeable menu of approaches to what it means to be an expert. Is it a matter of reputation within a community, or a matter of what one knows independently of reputation? An initial proposal characterizes expertise in dispositional terms—an ability to help other people get answers to difficult questions or execute difficult tasks. What cognitive states, however, ground these abilities? Do the grounds consist in “veritistic” states or in terms of evidence or justifiedness? To what extent (...) is expertise a matter of superior knowledge or other factors? Some authors seek to debunk the notion of expertise entirely. The present approach resists this stance, but doesn’t dispute the variability and fluidness of the concept. Even more challenging is the problem of how laypersons can determine who is the superior expert, especially when experts disagree. (shrink)
These essays by a major epistemologist reconfigure philosophical projects across a wide spectrum, from mind to metaphysics, from epistemology to social power. Several of Goldman's classic essays are included along with many newer writings. Together these trace and continue the development of the author's unique blend of naturalism and reliabilism.Part I defends the simulation approach to mentalistic ascription and explores the psychological mechanisms of ontological individuation. Part II shows why epistemology needs help from cognitive science - not only to evaluate (...) cognitive agents but also to illuminate the practices of epistemic evaluators. Parts III and IV explain how philosophical projects can be reshaped through interchange with social science. An epistemological study of scientific activity exploits the economic paradigm, and philosophical tools are applied to analyze power in society.Alvin I. Goldman is Professor of Philosophy and Research Scientist in Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona. During 1991-92 he served as President of the American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division.Contents:Mind and Metaphysics. Interpretation Psychologized. Metaphysics, Mind, and Mental Science. Cognition and Modal Metaphysics. Individual Epistemology. A Causal Theory of Knowing. Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge. What Is justified Belief? Strong and Weak justification. Psychology and Philosophical Analysis. Epistemic Folkways and Scientific Epistemology. Social Epistemology. Foundations of Social Epistemics. Epistemic Paternalism: Communication and Control in Law and Society. An Economic Model of Scientific Activity and Truth Acquisition. Social Power. Toward a Theory of Social Power. On the Measurement of Power. (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)
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.
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)
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)
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 intuitions be used to validate or invalidate a philosophical theory? An intuition about a case seems to be a basic evidential source for the truth of that intuition, i.e., for the truth of the claim that a particular example is or isn’t an instance of a philosophically interesting kind, concept, or predicate. A mental‐state type is a basic evidential source only if its tokens reliably indicate the truth of their contents. The best way to account for intuitions being (...) a basic evidential source is to interpret their subject matter in psychologistic terms. Intuitions provide evidence about the contents of the intuiter's concept, where “concept” is understood as a psychological structure. (shrink)
According to Selim Berker the prevalence of consequentialism in contemporary epistemology rivals its prevalence in contemporary ethics. Similarly, and more to the point, Berker finds epistemic consequentialism, epitomized by process reliabilism, to be as misguided and problematic as ethical consequentialism. This paper shows how Berker misconstrues process reliabilism and fails to pinpoint any new or substantial defects in it.
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)
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)