On Folk Epistemology explores how we ascribe knowledge to ourselves and others. Empirical evidence suggests that we do so early and often in thought as well as in talk. Since knowledge ascriptions are central to how we navigate social life, it is important to understand our basis for making them.
A central claim of the book is that factors that have nothing to do with knowledge may lead to systematic mistakes in everyday ascriptions of knowledge. These mistakes are explained by an empirically informed account of how ordinary knowledge ascriptions are the product of cognitive heuristics that are associated with biases. In developing this account, Mikkel Gerken presents work in cognitive psychology and pragmatics, while also contributing to epistemology. For example,
Gerken develops positive epistemic norms of action and assertion and moreover, critically assesses contextualism, knowledge-first methodology, pragmatic encroachment theories and more. Many of these approaches are argued to overestimate the epistemological significance of folk epistemology. In contrast, this volume
develops an equilibristic methodology according to which intuitive judgments about knowledge cannot straightforwardly play a role as data for epistemological theorizing. Rather, critical epistemological theorizing is required to interpret empirical findings. Consequently, On Folk Epistemology helps to lay the foundation for an emerging sub-field that intersects philosophy and the cognitive sciences: The empirical study of folk epistemology.
Mikkel Gerken (PhD, UCLA 2007) is a Danish philosopher. His research revolves around theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind but it is often integrated with theories of language and communication, cognitive psychology, philosophy of science and philosophical methodology. Gerken was an associate professor at the University of Edinburgh before returning to his native Denmark, where he is now an associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark. He is an elected member of The Young Academy under the Royal Danish Academy of the Sciences and was awarded a Young Elite Researcher prize from the Danish Ministry of Science.
PART I: PUZZLES; PART II: RESOURCES; PART III: DIAGNOSES