We often talk about groups believing, knowing, and testifying. For instance, we ask whether the Bush Administration had good reasons for believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or whether BP knew that its equipment was faulty before the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Epistemic claims of this sort often have enormously significant consequences, given the ways they bear on the moral and legal responsibilities of collective entities. Despite the importance of these epistemic claims, there has been surprisingly little philosophical work shedding light on these phenomena, their consequences, and the broader implications that follow for epistemology in general. Essays in Collective Epistemology aims to fill this gap in the literature by bringing together new papers in this area by some of the leading figures in social epistemology.
The volume is divided into four parts and contains ten articles written on a range of topics in collective epistemology. All of the papers focus on fundamental issues framing the epistemological literature on groups, and offer new insights or developments to the current debates: some do so by providing novel examinations of the epistemological relationship that groups bear to their members, while others point to new, cutting edge approaches to theorizing about concepts and issues related to collective entities. Anyone working in epistemology, or concerned with issues involving the social dimensions of knowledge, should find the papers in this book both interesting and valuable.
Jennifer Lackey is Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. Her recent research focuses on the epistemology of groups, the epistemology of testimony, norms of assertion, and the epistemic significance of disagreement. She has co-edited (with Ernest Sosa) The Epistemology of Testimony (OUP, 2006) and (with David Christensen) The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays (OUP, 2013) and is the author of Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge (OUP, 2008). She is the recipient of a Mellon Foundation Grant for a Sawyer Seminar (2014), the Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2007), and a Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (2002). She is also winner of the Young Epistemologist Prize (2005).
Table of Contents
Introduction, Jennifer Lackey
Part One: The Debate between Summativists and Non-Summativists
1. Social Process Reliabilism: Solving Justification Problems in Collective Epistemology, Alvin I. Goldman
2. When Is There a Group that Knows? Distributed Cognition, Scientific Knowledge, and the Social Epistemic Subject, Alexander Bird
3. A Deflationary Account of Group Testimony, Jennifer Lackey
Part Two: General Epistemic Concepts in the Collective Domain
4. How to Tell if a Group Is an Agent, Philip Pettit
5. The Stoic Epistemic Virtues of Groups, Sarah Wright
6. Disagreement and Public Controversy, David Christensen
Part Three: Individual and Collective Epistemology
7. Social Roots of Human Knowledge, Ernest Sosa
8. Belief, Acceptance, and What Happens in Groups: Some Methodological Considerations, Margaret Gilbert and Daniel Pilchman
Part Four: Collective Entities and Formal Epistemology
9. Individual Coherence and Group Coherence, Rachael Briggs, Fabrizio Cariani, Kenny Easwaran, and Branden Fitelson
10. When to Defer to Supermajority Testimony--and When Not, Christian List