Basil Mueller

Postal Address:

University of Bern
Institute of Philosophy
Länggassstrasse 49
3012 Bern

Office: Unitobler, D222


I’m a PhD-Student at the University of Bern and a member of the SNF-project Explaining Human Nature: Empirical and Ideological Dimensions. I received my master’s degree from the University of Zurich, where I was supervised by Hanjo Glock and Anne Meylan. In my master’s-thesis I developed and argued for what I called ‘social epistemic instrumentalism’: an instrumentalist position which claims that epistemic norms and reasons do not (solely) depend on the aims of an individual for their normative force, but on the aims of an individual’s social group.

The topic of my PhD-project is social epistemic norms and their evolution. Social epistemologists have recently begun to make use of social norms in their theorizing of a variety of phenomena. In parallel there exists an empirical literature on the evolution of cooperation, culture, and normativity that heavily relies on social norms. Although there are some exceptions, there’s only been little exchange between the two fields. The PhD-project aims to synthesize these as of yet dispersed insights to advance debates in social epistemology and the evolution of cooperation, culture and normativity. I’m also interested in how these questions bear on metaepistemological issues. The project is being supervised by Rebekka Hufendiek and Anne Meylan.

More generally, my main research interests lie in epistemology (social epistemology, epistemic normativity, metaepistemology) and in the philosophy of psychology and biology (cognitive irrationality, evolution of normativity, evolutionary explanations).

I recently published a paper that illustrates some of these interests — though, as it so often is the case, I have come to doubt some of the things I have written there. In the paper I argue that empirical research on the evolution of a social-learning mechanism is compatible with an epistemic error theory.

I’m also an associated member of the Zurich Epistemology Group on Rationality.

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