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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
Why should a citizen vote? There are two ways to interpret this question: in a prudential sense, and in a moral sense. Under the first interpretation, the question asks why—or under what circumstances—it is in a citizen's self-interest to vote. Under the second interpretation, it asks what moral reasons citizens have for voting. I shall mainly try to answer the moral version of the question, but my answer may also, in some circumstances, bear on the prudential question. Before proceeding to (...) my own approach, let me briefly survey alternatives in the field. (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)
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)
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)