Cover image for How do you know? the economics of ordinary knowledge
How do you know? the economics of ordinary knowledge
Hardin, Russell, 1940-
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Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2009. (Baltimore, Md. : Project MUSE, 2015)
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1 online resource (xv, 224 p. )
UPCC book collections on Project MUSE.
Ordinary knowledge -- Popular knowledge of science -- Democratic participation -- Liberalism -- Moral knowledge -- Institutional knowledge -- Religious belief and practice -- Culture -- Extremism.
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eBook ER148323 BD161 .H279 2009 Electronic Resources

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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.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Chapter 1 Ordinary Knowledgep. 1
An Economic Theory of Knowledgep. 4
The Social Generation of Knowledgep. 10
Knowledge from Authorityp. 11
The Division of Labor and Individual Knowledgep. 14
The Internalization of Normsp. 15
Standard Philosophical Theories of Knowledgep. 19
Concluding Remarksp. 25
Chapter 2 Popular Knowledge of Sciencep. 28
Medical Knowledgep. 35
Estrangement from Sciencep. 41
The Science Warsp. 44
Religion versus Sciencep. 45
A New Science?p. 49
Concluding Remarksp. 58
Chapter 3 Democratic Participationp. 60
The Logic of Collective Actionp. 62
The Economic Theory of Democracyp. 63
Voting and Ordinary Knowledgep. 65
Knowledge of How to Votep. 66
Median Knowledgep. 69
Understanding Whether to Votep. 70
Multidimensional Issuesp. 78
Concluding Remarksp. 80
Chapter 4 Liberalismp. 83
Austrian Social Theoryp. 84
Legibility and Democracyp. 87
Seeing like Hayekp. 89
Distributed Knowledge and Policyp. 91
Civil Libertiesp. 93
Liberty and Welfarep. 96
Concluding Remarksp. 99
Chapter 5 Moral Knowledgep. 101
Individual Moral Knowledgep. 103
Testing Moral Theories against Common Sensep. 105
The Strategy of Knowingp. 111
The Economics of Moral Motivationp. 113
Social Evolution of Collective Moral Knowledgep. 114
Authority and Moral Knowledgep. 118
Concluding Remarksp. 119
Chapter 6 Institutional Knowledgep. 121
Strategic Interaction and Institutionsp. 123
Institutions and Moral Knowledgep. 124
Institutions as Meliorativep. 126
Apparent Mutual Advantagep. 130
Interpersonal Comparisons of Welfarep. 131
Concluding Remarksp. 133
Chapter 7 Religious Belief and Practicep. 135
Religious Knowledge by Authorityp. 138
Incentive to Believe, or Count as Truep. 142
Adaptive Knowledge Revisionp. 143
Communal Sources of Beliefp. 147
Communal Enforcement of Beliefp. 148
Sincerity of Belief and Knowledgep. 150
Fundamentalist, Infallible Beliefp. 153
Concluding Remarksp. 159
Chapter 8 Culturep. 161
Group-Specific Implications of Individual Knowledgep. 162
Knowledge and Culturep. 166
A Functional Account of Culturep. 175
The Goodness of a Culturep. 176
Collective Identityp. 179
Concluding Remarksp. 181
Chapter 9 Extremismp. 185
Knowledge by Authority, Againp. 186
Normal Politicsp. 187
The Belief System of Extremismp. 188
Nationalismp. 191
Fanatical Action without Fanatical Beliefp. 195
Interests and Knowledgep. 196
Knowledge, Fanaticism, and Nationalismp. 200
Coerced Ignorancep. 201
Concluding Remarksp. 203
Referencesp. 205
Indexp. 219