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How Do You Know?


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This book develops a general, economic theory of ordinary knowledge and applies it to many different kinds of knowledge and belief, providing a clear and convincing view of many of the world's problems, such as fanaticism and nationalism. A significant contribution that will be useful to readers in many different fields, How Do You Know? is also beautifully written and a pleasure to read. -- Jonathan Baron, University of Pennsylvania Russell Hardin's How Do You Know? is original, thought provoking, and important. It raises questions of both practical and intellectual significance and it is very well written--indeed, it is an engrossing read. -- Geoffrey Brennan, Duke University and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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

About the Author

Russell Hardin is professor of politics at New York University and the author of many books, including "David Hume: Moral and Political Theorist, Indeterminacy and Society" (Princeton), "Liberalism, Constitutionalism, and Democracy", and "One for All: The Logic of Group Conflict" (Princeton).


"This book is an exceptionally clear statement of why individuals believe and act as they do and should be especially useful to policy makers."--Choice "Overall, this book is a good choice for anybody with broad interests, as Hardin is highly knowledgeable on an impressive broad scale of issues. It is well-written, and the many international examples give this book a rare global perspective... [I]t is an essential reference that serves as an excellent guide to a fast, multidisciplinary theme."--Hans Dubois, CEU Political Science Journal "[Hardin] he offers an insightful lens on popular knowledge in society and politics."--Mark B. Brown, Perspectives on Politics

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