1. The theatre of public social (folk) epistemology in tension with the
improved models of reality that come out of public social epistemology. 2. What is NOT folk epistemology? Non-folk epistemology seems to be to be
something we can only approach asymptotically. Beyond that there seems to
me to be a fundamental "intuition" black box gap between our conscious folk
epistemology and the part of our brains that feeds it ideas to "reason"
through to improve our models of reality (and even to be aware of, measure,
and describe the improvements).
3. Be nervous about this much expert divergence. If it continues, the Oakshotte approach would be as closely as possible to mirror what was done in the past with the situations as analogous to this as possible. The Taleb approach would seem to me to be an abstention vote. If expert divergence persists we might as well do the stimulus package, it seems to me. But no reputational credits for economists and pundits who opposed it if it didn't work, unless their predictions for how it fails are spelled out in excrutiating explanatory detail.
Cochrane on Fiscal Stimulus A thought-provoking piece by University of Chicago economist John Cochrane. His bottom line:
there is a plausible diagnosis and a logically consistent argument under which fiscal stimulus could help: We are experiencing a strong portfolio and precautionary demand for government debt, along with a credit crunch. People want to hold less private debt and they want to save, and they want to hold Treasuries, money, or government-guaranteed debt. However, this demand can be satisfied in far greater quantity, much more quickly, much more reversibly, and without the danger of a fiscal collapse and inflation down the road, if the Fed and Treasury were simply to expand their operations of issuing treasury debt and money in exchange for high-quality private debt and especially new securitized debt.
Around the econoblogosphere, John's piece is proving controversial. Harvard's Dani Rodik calls it the "best argument against a conventional fiscal stimulus that I have seen" and notes "since it is also very well written every macroeconomics student should read it in full." Meanwhile, Berkeley's Brad DeLong accuses John of making "an elementary, freshman mistake."
There is an understandable desire now by the Obama economists to line up a widespread consensus for its $850 billion dollar stimulus plan. All of the economists designers and surrogates for it do have an element of their reputations on the line. Despite that nobody can be extremely confident that it'll work: the level of uncertainty seems very high. But it does seem to be consensus in this circle of Obama economists that on balance, doing nothing, or doing a different politically achievable thing, on balance is less likely to lead to the least awful outcome than getting this stimulus plan passed by Congress and implemented by the executive branch.
Enter rival economists. Given the relatively weak levels of certainty in the efficacy of a plan that some of the highest status economists are placing reputational bets on, I intuit a huge incentive for rival economists and non-economist celebrity forecasters to oppose the plan carte blanche, simply because they see an unusual opportunity for status advancement relative to the Obama economists. The problem is, I suspect that (1) this is the type of opposition that I'm not sure makes us smarter, and (2) it can function as a kind of heckler's veto against doing the smartest possible thing.
As it is, how warped is the plan already by various types of heckler and protester vetos? A greater consensus of economists on a plan might have reduced the need to warp the plan by politics and interest group buyouts, in order to maximize constituencies for its passage. So the "easy bet" economists, by thwarting the development of expert economist consensus, also may create conditions where the plan is more deformed and likely to fail.
This post of course is highly speculative, but I haven't seen this problem or concern addressed elsewhere.
Even Tuesday evening, the Senate Appropriations leadership was withholding
a full public release of its bill, which marks a debut of sorts for Sen.
Daniel Inouye, the incoming chairman. But the 84-year-old Hawaii Democrat
and World War II combat hero is no stranger to the Senate, and his long
history as a bipartisan figure in the chamber dovetails with Obama’s plea
to put aside party differences given the economic crisis.
“Excited is not the word — challenged,” Inouye told Politico of his
feelings going forward. “I expect on this bill, debate. I can read the
papers. I welcome that because I want to be able to convince my colleagues
that what we are facing is really terrible if we don’t act fast.
“We thought it was horrendous when 524,000 lost their jobs in December,”
Inouye continued. “This month I would anticipate 600,000. ... You’re
averaging 20,000 a day. That’s unacceptable to me. I would hope the members
are convinced, No. 1, the crisis is real; No. 2, that we must act and act
fast; No. 3, we are going to make mistakes. I’m not infallible — no one’s
infallible — but let’s hope we don’t make too many mistakes.”
Adding the agriculture money — a priority for Inouye’s ranking Republican,
Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi — is part, too, of Inouye’s old school
style that won’t always sit as well with the new White House.
I’m a realist,” he said, “Members are supposed to keep in mind their
constituency. I do that, and I’m not embarrassed.”
True to the president’s request, the new package will be free of spending
earmarks, but Inouye warned that no one in the new administration should
expect that practice to disappear forever.
“If they’re hoping to wipe out earmarks, then they don’t have an ally,” the
chairman said. “Because I’ll say this now and I’ll say it again and again
and again. I wasn’t elected to be a rubber stamp.”
3. Look up feminist social epistemology on Plato (stanford philosophy encyclopedia online). It's a striking colonization of a mechanism for understanding how knowledge is produced by a mythology (or a "political project", to use their own terminology).
I remember first hearing about google, before most people. I checked it out and wasn't too impressed by the product. That was because I didn't know the minds behind it. The one thing I saw right away that was smart was the uncluttered quickly loading page. Over the years I was surprised its competitors didn't adapt to at least that standard. If I leaned towards google, it was because, no matter what crap computer or connection I was on, google would load if anything did. But I didn't think the search results themselves were superior, for example, to yahoo.
Fast forward a few years and now functionally all my computer time is on google. All my recreational entertainment time is now on google blog search and youtube.
They did something right, at least in capturing my mindshare.
I recall reading their design philosophy somewhere, and I thought: Yup. Functionally perfect.
Introduction President Barack Obama took office in January 2009 facing the country's biggest economic crisis since the Second World War. Obama and Democratic Party leaders have suggested an economic stimulus package to confront the crisis. This package, they say, will save or create over three million U.S. jobs and provide most Americans with tax cuts. In the longer term, Obama says his plan will stimulate vital sectors of the economy such as energy and health care, making U.S. firms more competitive internationally. When Democratic lawmakers first introduced stimulus legislation in early 2009, they presented a bill with a price tag of $825 billion, though many analysts say the total cost of the plan will likely increase as it makes its way through Congress. The package comes amidst a global wave of stimulus spending, and if it succeeds in pulling the U.S. economy from recession, economists say, the positive impact could be felt around the world. Yet experts also see a number of ways the plan could go wrong. Some encourage targeted, temporary spending measures and say lawmakers should take budgetary concerns into consideration. Doing too little to solve the financial crisis could prove calamitous, they say, but legislative overreach could also have serious consequences.
Obama’s Stimulus Plan Obama's plan aims to stimulate employment, certain critical economic sectors, and U.S. consumer spending. It specifies $550 billion in spending on new projects and $275 billion in tax cuts. The initial plan (PDF) includes investments for:
Energy, including $32 billion to transform the U.S. energy grid to make it more efficient; $16 billion to repair public housing and make it more energy efficient; and $6 billion to weatherize low-income homes; Science and technology, including $10 billion for new scientific facilities and $6 billion to improve broadband Internet access in rural areas; Infrastructure, including $30 billion for highways; $31 billion to modernize federal buildings and other public infrastructure; $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and other environmental investments; and $10 billion to improve public transit and rail infrastructure; Education, including $41 billion for local school districts, $79 billion in outlays to states to prevent educational service cutbacks; $15.6 billion to broaden the federal Pell Grant program, which gives need-based grants to fund education; and $6 billion to modernize higher education programs; and Health care, including $87 billion for Medicaid; $20 billion to improve health information technology; and around $4 billion to improve preventative care. The plan also includes $140 billion directed toward tax cuts of $500 per worker or $1,000 per family over two years; expanded tax credits for working poor with children; and a $2,500 college tuition credit. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the tax portion of the bill on January 22, though it has yet to pass the entire House of Representatives.
Some analysts say the Obama administration's spending on economic stimulus will be broader than what's included in the stimulus spending plan. "You've got to look at the whole picture," said Adam Posen of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in a January 2009 interview (PDF). Posen and several other analysts have noted that stimulus spending could come in many ways beyond what's in the plan, including:
The Treasury's $700 billion in TARP funds, initially aimed at stabilizing the financial sector, seems likely to be used to provide relief to other industries and "for things that look more like stimulus and less like asset purchases," according to Posen; Automatic economic stabilizers like extensions of unemployment insurance; Expansions of health insurance; Some form of "mortgage relief" aimed at helping Americans facing default; Federal Reserve purchases of mortgage-backed securities and perhaps other types of distressed securities in the future; and An expanded GI bill for returning veterans. Posen says the Obama administration, "for understandable political reasons, doesn't want to put it all under the cover of one title called stimulus, in part because these things have their individual merits, but in part because they don't want to have a bill of $1.5 trillion."
How Economic Stimulus Works Economic or "fiscal" stimulus stands in contrast to monetary stimulus, a process through which the U.S. Federal Reserve Board adjusts interest rates to encourage or discourage lending. By 2009, the Fed had lowered rates to near zero. Because it can't lower rates below zero (which would amount to lenders paying people to take a loan), the Fed had few remaining policy options. Economic stimulus is another means by which a government can seek to boost its economy, either in the short term, by encouraging consumers or companies to consume goods, or in the longer term, by encouraging the growth of businesses and the creation of jobs through investments in infrastructure and research.
There are many different forms of potential economic stimulus and they work in different ways. Tax cuts for individuals generally encourage short-term spending. Tax cuts for companies encourage both spending and investment. Expenditures on public works create contracts for firms and provide short- to medium-term employment opportunities. Investments in research and development take a longer-term approach under the theory that businesses will thrive in the future (and thus provide jobs) if they have the money to make intelligent investments in their operations now.
Finally, some forms of economic stimulus seek to make investments that will pay off in the long run by making consumption cheaper for everybody. An example is investing in the U.S. energy grid. Theoretically, a one-time outlay could make energy costs for both individuals and businesses less expensive for decades to come. Similar arguments are made about health care spending. Critics say an outdated and illogical health care system presents significant costs for U.S. businesses that could be eased through front-end investments. Obama has called attention to both energy and health care as sectors in which infrastructure investments could help make U.S. firms more competitive internationally. Other countries, including China, have similarly focused stimulus spending on infrastructure development.
Analysis Stimulus as a Strategy
Economists disagree on the wisdom of extensive stimulus spending, as well as the particulars of the current U.S. plan. Given the current economic climate, most mainstream economists now say that the potential downsides of collapse are sufficiently grave that large stimulatory expenditures may be necessary. As the global financial and economic crisis has worsened, this viewpoint has gained international popularity. In a December 2008 paper released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, leading UN economists call for coordinated stimulus packages across the world's leading economies, above and beyond the money already spent to boost credit market liquidity.
Two scholars from the conservative Heritage Foundation argue in a December 2008 paper that the best medicine for the U.S. economy would be to reduce overall government spending. CFR Senior Fellow Amity Shlaes adds that governments can throw good money after bad if they seek to stimulate unsustainable businesses. "It can be perverse because you stimulate something [i.e. an industry] that's really pretty weak and should maybe fade," Shlaes told CFR.org. In a December 2008 op-ed, Shlaes also argued that huge public works projects often fail to revive national economies, as evidenced by Japan's experience during the 1990s.
Disagreement over Tax Cuts
Some people who support the idea of a stimulus package, including some of those within Obama's Democratic Party, still criticize aspects of the president's plan. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has criticized the plan for its tax cuts, saying they extend further than he would have wanted. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate economist and Columbia professor, supported Frank's position in a Financial Times op-ed.
The chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, and another economist, Jared Bernstein, who works for the office of Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., explain the rationale behind the tax cuts in a recent paper (PDF). In the paper, Romer and Bernstein acknowledge that tax cuts and fiscal relief to states will likely create less of an immediate economic boost than direct government investments in infrastructure. But they defend the tax cuts on the grounds that there are limits to the amount of money the government can invest efficiently and quickly in infrastructure; therefore, they conclude that some outlays for states and for tax cuts are merited, given the severity of the current economic climate.
Risks of Large Stimulus Packages
Economists point to several possible risks posed by large stimulus packages and say lawmakers would be well advised to take these risks into consideration as they mould the current package. Most basically, there is a risk that the stimulus package won't work, or won't do enough, and that the economic crisis could continue despite massive government expenditures.
Beyond that basic risk, experts say there are several contingencies under which the stimulus plan could prove problematic, even if its works in many of its goals. A January 2009 paper by two Brookings Institution fellows, one of whom, Jason Furman, was a senior economic adviser to Obama's campaign, argues stimulus spending should be:
Timely, to guarantee that spending affects the economy when it is needed most, and to prevent against capital injections leading to overexpansion or rapid inflation. Targeted, to make sure each dollar spent creates the maximum possible bump in short-term gross domestic product (GDP), and to make sure that spending benefits the people most adversely affected by the economic slowdown. Temporary, to prevent unnecessary strain on a country's budget in the long run. Economists say an important determinant of the long-term success of Obama's plan will be the degree to which he is able to follow these principles and prevent short-term stimulus from turning into massive long-term budgetary obligations. The size of the U.S. budget and current account deficit remain major concerns. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast in early January 2009 that the U.S. deficit will tally $1.2 trillion in fiscal year 2009, which would mark the highest U.S. budget deficit as a percentage of the country's GDP since World War II. The Financial Times examines this risk in a January 2009 editorial and concludes that the contours of Obama's plan are "mostly right" in that they seem to acknowledge that some of the fiscal expenditures called for in the bill should be temporary.
Prospects of International Debt Default
Some analysts are concerned that a rapidly expanding U.S. deficit will force Washington to borrow internationally, weakening its geopolitical might and increasing the risk of the United States defaulting on its international debt and facing a true financial meltdown. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gregory Ip, the U.S. economics editor at the Economist, notes that in early 2009, markets pegged the probability of a U.S. default in the next decade at 6 percent, as opposed to a 1 percent risk a year before.
Obama and his advisers have defended the scope of the package, saying the expenditures will boost confidence in the United States by convincing foreign partners that action is being taken to lift the U.S. economy from recession. Tyler Cowen, a respected economics blogger, wrote recently that Obama's plan appears to take into account the very frightening possibility of the United States defaulting on its international debt, and that concerns over default risk probably explain why the package isn't larger.
Finally, and perhaps counterintuitively, some analysts point to potentially frightening risks if the stimulus package works too fast. With the world economy destabilized, foreign governments poured money into the U.S. dollar and U.S. treasuries during the latter half of 2008. If a rapid economic recovery leads to a sudden flight from U.S. debt, some analysts say, the result could be inflationary pressures and an environment in which Washington couldn't borrow as easily internationally. This could potentially press Washington closer to a default scenario.
The humorously sarcastic abstract below averages 1 set of scare quotes per sentence. I think Mercer's view of how epistemological insight is perverted in the instituions of law and medicine is in line with my own. "Folk epistemology" is a great term, maybe 1/2 a step away from calling it a less polite name like "mythology preserving pseudoepistemology". Or if I could coin a phrase, I think a lot of analytical fun could be had with a term like "status epistemology". Maybe "legitimacy" to a degree is a coded conflation of status and power.
Science, Legitimacy, and “Folk Epistemology” in Medicine and Law: Parallels between Legal Reforms to the Admissibility of Expert Evidence and Evidence-Based Medicine Author: David Mercer (Show Biography) DOI: 10.1080/02691720802559420 Publication Frequency: 4 issues per year Published in: Social Epistemology, Volume 22, Issue 4 October 2008 , pages 405 - 423 Subjects: Epistemology; Philosophy of Science; Formats available: HTML (English) : PDF (English) Article Requests: Order Reprints : Request Permissions
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Sign In Online Sample Abstract This paper explores some of the important parallels between recent reforms to legal rules for the admissibility of scientific and expert evidence, exemplified by the US Supreme Court's decision in Daubert v Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 1993, and similar calls for reforms to medical practice, that emerged around the same time as part of the Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) movement. Similarities between the “movements” can be observed in that both emerged from a historical context where the quality of medicine and legal approaches to science were being subjected to growing criticism, and in the ways that proponents of both movements have used appeals to “folk epistemologies” of science to help legitimate their reform aspirations. The term folk epistemology is used to describe the weaving together of formal and informal images of scientific method with normative and pragmatic concerns such as eradicating “junk science”, and promoting medical best practice. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the unfocused breadth of these aspirations the implications of these “reforms” for medical and legal practice have not been straightforward, although they do represent an important new set of rhetorical resources to critique and or legitimate expertise in medical and legal domains. Discussion closes, by noting the growth of calls for these movements to reciprocate in areas where law and medicine intersect, such as medical negligence litigation. Keywords: Evidence-Based Medicine; Expert Evidence; Daubert; Law and Science; Folk Epistemology
In my cursory review of publications that are explictly about (meaning that they name check) social epistemology, I don't see any pointing out that prediction markets are one of our best (most reliable, most rational) forms of social epistemology. It's main competitor (and perhaps its superior) that I'm aware of is the consensus of experts. Expertise does seem to be studied by those working explicitly in the field of social epistemology, but I'm not aware of anyone specifically studying "the consensus of experts", which is odd, because it is name-checked regularly on big empirical topics like anthropogenic global warming and the etiology of many diseases.
Edit: Prof. Hanson has several papers published in the journal "social epistemology".
Professor Hanson is busy optimizing prediction markets (combinatorial prediction markets, a topic he is hopefully not publishing for an audience of one), but I don't see much work by anyone on optimizing how expert consensus is formed. The closest I've discovered so far seems to be the titles of some of these social epistemology papers.
Speciality Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Science Research Alvin Goldman's principal research areas are epistemology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science, and he has also written on metaphysics, political and legal theory, and philosophy of science. In epistemology he has championed the causal theory of knowing, the relevant alternatives approach to knowledge, and reliabilism about justification. Epistemology and Cognition (1986) explores connections between epistemology and cognitive science. Knowledge in a Social World (1999) articulates a truth-oriented conception of social epistemology and shows how the pursuit of truth can be enhanced by good interpersonal argumentation and well-designed technologies and institutions of public communication. These themes are applied to science, law, democracy, and education.Recent papers on epistemic internalism, a priori warrant, philosophical intuitions, and trust in experts are collected in Pathways to Knowledge (2002). He recently completed a book on the simulation theory of mindreading, entitled Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience of Mindreading. It will be published in 2006 by Oxford University Press. In the fall of 2005, he assumes the position of Editor of the journal Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology, published by Edinburgh University Press. See http://www.episteme.us.com.
A Theory of Human Action, Prentice-Hall (1970). (Electronic Copy)
Values and Morals, edited (with Jaegwon Kim), Kluwer (1978).
Epistemology and Cognition, Harvard University Press (1986).
Liaisons: Philosophy Meets the Cognitive and Social Sciences, MIT Press (1992).
Philosophical Applications of Cognitive Science, Westview (1993).
Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science, edited, MIT Press (1993).
Knowledge in a Social World, Oxford University Press (1999).
Pathways to Knowledge: Private and Public, Oxford University Press (2002).
Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience of Mindreading, Oxford University Press (2006).
Selected Articles and Chapters, Topically Organized Mainstream Epistemology
"A Causal Theory of Knowing," Journal of Philosophy (1967); reprinted in Liaisons.
"Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge," Journal of Philosophy (1976), reprinted in Liaisons.
"What Is Justified Belief?" in Pappas, ed., Justification and Knowledge (1979); reprinted in Liaisons.
"Internalism Exposed," Journal of Philosophy (1999); reprinted in Pathways.
"A Priori Warrant and Naturalistic Epistemology," in Philosophical Perspectives (1999); reprinted in Pathways.
"The Unity of the Epistemic Virtues," in Fairweather and Zagzebski, eds. (2001); reprinted in Pathways.
Epistemology and Cognition (1986), esp. part 2.
"Epistemic Folkways and Scientific Epistemology," in Liaisons.
"The Sciences and Epistemology," in Moser, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology (forthcoming).
"An Economic Model of Scientific Activity and Truth Acquisition" (with Moshe Shaked), Philosophical Studies (1991); reprinted in Liaisons.
"Epistemic Paternalism: Communication Control in Law and Society," Journal of Philosophy (1991); reprinted in Liaisons.
"Games Lawyers Play: Legal Discovery and Social Epistemology" (with William Talbott), Legal Theory (1998).
Knowledge in a Social World (1999), passim.
"Experts: Which Ones Should You Trust?" Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2001); reprinted in Pathways.
"Group Knowledge versus Group Rationality: Two Approaches to Social Epistemology", Episteme, A Journal of Social Epistemology 1: 11-22 (2004).
"Actions, Predictions, and Books of Life," American Philosophical Quarterly (1968).
"The Compatibility of Mechanism and Purpose," Philosophical Review (1969).
A Theory of Human Action, especially chaps. 1-2.
"The Individuation of Action," Journal of Philosophy (1971).
"Metaphysics, Mind, and Mental Science," Philosophical Topics (1989); reprinted in Liaisons.
Philosophy of Mind
"Interpretation Psychologized," Mind and Language (1989); reprinted in Liaisons.
"Empathy, Mind and Morals," Proceedings and Addresses of the APA (1992).
"Consciousness, Folk Psychology, and Cognitive Science," Consciousness and Cognition (1993).
"The Psychology of Folk Psychology," Behavioral and Brain Sciences (1993).
"The Mentalizing Folk," in Sperber, ed., Metarepresentations (2000).
Philosophy and Cognitive Science
Epistemology and Cognition (1986), part 2.
"Science, Publicity, and Consciousness," Philosophy of Science (1997).
"Mirror Neurons and the Simulation Theory of Mindreading" (with Vittorio Gallese), Trends in Cognitive Sciences (1998).
"Can Science Know When You're Conscious? Epistemological Foundations of Consciousness Research," Journal of Consciousness Studies (2000).
"Toward a Theory of Social Power," Philosophical Studies (1972); reprinted in Liaisons.
"Why Citizens Should Vote: A Causal Responsibility Approach," Social Philosophy and Policy (1999).
Knowledge in a Social World (1999), chap. 10 ("Democracy").
"Epistemic Paternalism: Communication Control in Law and Society," Journal of Philosophy (1991); reprinted in Liaisons.
"Speech, Truth, and the Free Market for Ideas" (with James Cox), Legal Theory (1996).
"Games Lawyers Play: Legal Discovery and Social Epistemology" (with William Talbott), Legal Theory (1998).
Knowledge in a Social World (1999), chap. 9 ("Law").
"Quasi-Objective Bayesianism and Legal Evidence," Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology (2002)
2. Some interesting lectures related to social epistomology by Fullers
Born: 12 July 1959, New York City; US citizen, UK permanent resident since 1998.
Biography listed in Contemporary Authors, vol.137 (1992), p. 145 [updated 2002]; The Writer’s Directory (2000); Who's Who in Science and Engineering (2002); Who’s Who in the World (2003); Dictionary of International Biography (2004); The International Who’s Who (2005).
Languages (reading): French, Latin.
University of Pittsburgh: Ph.D., 1985 (History & Philosophy of Science) for "Bounded Rationality in Law and Science," directed by J.E. McGuire.
Cambridge University: M.Phil., 1981 (History & Philosophy of Science) for "The Concept of
Reduction in Phenomenology and Logical Positivism," directed by Mary Hesse.
Columbia University: B.A., summa cum laude, 1979 (History and Sociology).
Regis High School (New York City): 1977, All scholarship Jesuit College Preparatory School.