How Do You Know?: The Economics of Ordinary Knowledge

How Do You Know?: The Economics of Ordinary Knowledge

by Russell Hardin
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691137552

ISBN-13: 9780691137551

Pub. Date: 04/06/2009

Publisher: Princeton University Press

How do ordinary people come to know or believe what they do? We need an account of this process to help explain why people act as they do. You might think I am acting irrationally--against my interest or my purpose--until you realize that what you know and what I know differ significantly. My actions, given my knowledge, might make eminently good sense. Of course,

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Overview

How do ordinary people come to know or believe what they do? We need an account of this process to help explain why people act as they do. You might think I am acting irrationally--against my interest or my purpose--until you realize that what you know and what I know differ significantly. My actions, given my knowledge, might make eminently good sense. Of course, this pushes our problem back one stage to assess why someone knows or believes what they do. That is the focus of this book. Russell Hardin supposes that people are not usually going to act knowingly against their interests or other purposes. To try to understand how they have come to their knowledge or beliefs is therefore to be charitable in assessing their rationality. Hardin insists on such a charitable stance in the effort to understand others and their sometimes objectively perverse actions.

Hardin presents an essentially economic account of what an individual can come to know and then applies this account to many areas of ordinary life: political participation, religious beliefs, popular knowledge of science, liberalism, culture, extremism, moral beliefs, and institutional knowledge. All of these can be enlightened by the supposition that people are attempting reasonable actions under the severe constraints of acquiring better knowledge when they face demands that far outstretch their possibilities.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691137551
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
04/06/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Chapter 1: Ordinary Knowledge 1

An Economic Theory of Knowledge 4

The Social Generation of Knowledge 10

Knowledge from Authority 11

The Division of Labor and Individual Knowledge 14

The Internalization of Norms 15

Standard Philosophical Theories of Knowledge 19

Concluding Remarks 25

Chapter 2: Popular Knowledge of Science 28

Medical Knowledge 35

Estrangement from Science 41

The Science Wars 44

Religion versus Science 45

A New Science? 49

Concluding Remarks 58

Chapter 3: Democratic Participation 60

The Logic of Collective Action 62

The Economic Theory of Democracy 63

Voting and Ordinary Knowledge 65

Knowledge of How to Vote 66

Median Knowledge 69

Understanding Whether to Vote 70

Multidimensional Issues 78

Concluding Remarks 80

Chapter 4: Liberalism 83

Austrian Social Theory 84

Legibility and Democracy 87

Seeing like Hayek 89 Distributed Knowledge and Policy 91

Civil Liberties 93

Liberty and Welfare 96

Concluding Remarks 99

Chapter 5: Moral Knowledge 101

Individual Moral Knowledge 103

Testing Moral Theories against Common Sense 105

The Strategy of Knowing 111

The Economics of Moral Motivation 113

Social Evolution of Collective Moral Knowledge 114

Authority and Moral Knowledge 118

Concluding Remarks 119

Chapter 6: Institutional Knowledge 121

Strategic Interaction and Institutions 123

Institutions and Moral Knowledge 124

Institutions as Meliorative 126

Apparent Mutual Advantage 130

Interpersonal Comparisons of Welfare 131

Concluding Remarks 133

Chapter 7: Religious Belief and Practice 135

Religious Knowledge by Authority 138

Incentive to Believe, or Count as True 142

Adaptive Knowledge Revision 143

Communal Sources of Belief 147

Communal Enforcement of Belief 148

Sincerity of Belief and Knowledge 150

Fundamentalist, Infallible Belief 153

Concluding Remarks 159

Chapter 8: Culture 161

Group-Specific Implications of Individual Knowledge 162

Knowledge and Culture 166

A Functional Account of Culture 175

The Goodness of a Culture 176

Collective Identity 179

Concluding Remarks 181 Chapter 9: Extremism 185

Knowledge by Authority, Again 186

Normal Politics 187

The Belief System of Extremism 188

Nationalism 191

Fanatical Action without Fanatical Belief 195

Interests and Knowledge 196

Knowledge, Fanaticism, and Nationalism 200

Coerced Ignorance 201

Concluding Remarks 203

References 205

Index 219

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