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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
A conception of social epistemology is articulated with links to studies of science and opinion in such disciplines as history, sociology, and political science. The conception is evaluative, though, rather than purely descriptive. Three types of evaluative approaches are examined but rejected: relativism, consensualism, and expertism. A fourth, truth-linked, approach to intellectual evaluation is then advocated: social procedures should be appraised by their propensity to foster true belief. Standards of evaluation in social epistemics would be much the same as those (...) in individual epistemics, only the objects of evaluation would be interpersonal patterns of judgment and communication, and institutional practices that bear on opinion formation. (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)