Mindreading knowledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Is knowing a mental state in its own right, as believing is, or is it at best a mental state in an attenuated sense due to being a species of belief? Jennifer Nagel has recently contended that there’s a strong empirical case for the former view of knowledge, arguing indirectly for this conclusion by drawing on work in developmental and comparative psychology that she takes to suggest that the concept of knowledge is acquired before the concept of belief. This paper critically reassesses the bearing of the relevant empirical results, arguing that they present a messy, complicated, and inherently inconclusive picture of when children and other creatures acquire the concepts in question. I conclude that the available empirical evidence does not support Nagel’s conceptual priority claim, let alone her further metaphysical conclusions about the nature of knowlege
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKnowledge First
Subtitle of host publicationApproaches in Epistemology and Mind
EditorsJ Adam Carter, Emma C Gordon, Benjamin Jarvis
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9780198716310
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • knowledge first
  • developmental psychology
  • concept acquisition
  • mindreading
  • false belief tasks


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