alexa Editorial: Folk Epistemology. The Cognitive Bases of Epistemic Evaluation
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

Author(s): Christophe Heintz, Dario Taraborelli

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Folk epistemology refers to a range of cognitive skills that involve epistemic concepts such as knowledge and truth. As human beings we are able to assess the truth of an utterance by another agent or whether an inference someone makes is valid. We can evaluate to what extent sources we acquire information from are reliable and whether new information we acquire should lead to belief revision. We consistently produce, in particular, epistemic evaluations. We can judge, for instance, that: “p is true”, “it is probable that p”, “A is justified in thinking that p”, “B is trustworthy when she says that p”, or “C is lying”. Epistemology is the normative study of how such epistemic evaluations should be made. By contrast, the study of folk epistemology focuses on epistemic evaluations that people actually make and on the processes that produce them. It is a descriptive research project on the beliefs and intuitions people have about knowledge, truth, reasons and other epistemic notions, as well as a research project on the psychological and cognitive processes that sustain them. We use the term “folk epistemology” to specify that the scope of this notion is not just epistemology as traditionally understood by philosophers, but the epistemology that reflects how people make epistemic evaluations; the term “folk” also refers to an established tradition in psychology that investigates “naive” or “folk” theories that ground the cognition of specific domains: folk physics, for instance, as the cognition of physical objects, or folk psychology, as the cognitive ability to ascribe intentions, beliefs and desires to others.

This article was published in Review of Philosophy and Psychology and referenced in Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

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