Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The Epistemic Features of Group Belief


Recently, there has been a debate focusing on the question of whether groups can literally have beliefs. For the purposes of epistemology, however, the key question is whether groups can have knowledge. More specifically, the question is whether “group views” can have the key epistemic features of belief, viz., aiming at truth and being epistemically rational. I argue that, while groups may not have beliefs in the full sense of the word, group views can have these key epistemic features of belief. However, I argue that on Margaret Gilbert's influential “plural subject” account of group belief, group views are unlikely to be epistemically rational.

Hide All
BonJour Laurence. 1985. The Structure of Empirical Knowledge. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Bratman Michael. 1993. “Practical Reasoning and Acceptance in a Context.” Mind 102: 115.
Bratman Michael. 1999. “Shared Intention and Mutual Obligation.” Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 130–41.
Clifford W. K. 1879/2001. “The Ethics of Belief.” In The Ethics of Belief, Burger A. J., ed. (accessed May 15, 2006).
Cohen L. Jonathan. 1989. “Belief and Acceptance.” Mind 98: 367–89.
Corlett J. Angelo. 1996. Analyzing Social Knowledge. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield.
Durkheim Emile. 1994. “Social Facts,” in Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science, Martin Michael and McIntyre Lee C., eds. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, pp. 433–40.
Engel Pascal. 1998. “Believing, Accepting, Holding True.” Philosophical Explorations 1: 140151.
Fallis Don. 2005. “Epistemic Value Theory and Judgment Aggregation.” Episteme 2(1): 3955.
Foley Richard. 1993. Working Without at Net: A Study of Egocentric Epistemology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Giersson Heimat. 2004. “Contra Collective Epistemic Agency.” Southwest Philosophy Review 20: 163166.
Gilbert Margaret. 1987/1996. “Modeling Collective Belief.” In Living Together: Rationality, Sociality, and Obligation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 195214.
Gilbert Margaret. 1989. On Social Facts. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Gilbert Margaret. 1994. “Remarks on Collective Belief.” In Socializing Epistemology: The Social Dimension of Knowledge, Schmitt Frederick F., ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 235255.
Gilbert Margaret. 1996. “More on Collective Belief.” Living Together: Rationality, Sociality, and Obligation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 339–60.
Gilbert Margaret. 2000. “Collective Belief and Scientific Change.” In Sociality and Responsibility: New Essays in Plural Subject Theory. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Gilbert Margaret. 2002. “Belief and Acceptance as Features of Groups.” Protosociology 16: 3569.
Gilbert Margaret. 2004. “Collective Epistemology.” Episteme 1(2): 95107.
Goldman Alvin. 1999. Knowledge in a Social World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
DeRose Keith. 1999. “Contextualism: An Explanation and Defense.” In The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, Greco John and Sosa Ernest, eds. Oxford: Blackwell.
Hakli Raul. 2006. “Group beliefs and the distinction between belief and acceptance.” Cognitive Systems Research 7(2–3): 286297
Kawall Jason. 2000. “Other-Regarding Epistemic Virtues.” Ratio 15(3): 257275.
Lehrer Keith. 1990. Theory of Knowledge. Boulder, CO: Westview.
McMahon Christopher. 2003. “Two Modes of Collective Belief.” Protosociology 18/19: 347362.
Meijers Anthonie. 2002. “Collective Agents and Cognitive Attitudes.” Protosociology 16: 7085.
Meijers Anthonie.. 2003. “Why Accept Collective Beliefs? Reply to Gilbert.” Protosociology 18/19: 377–88.
Mathiesen Kay. 2003. “On Collective Identity.” Protosociology 18/19: 6685.
Mathiesen Kay.. 2005. “Collective Consciousness.” In Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind, Thomasson Amie and Smith David Woodruff, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Miller Seumas. 2001. Social Action: A Teleological Account. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Pettit Philip. 2003. “Groups With Minds of Their Own.” In Socializing Metaphysics: The Nature of Social Reality, Schmitt Frederick F., ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 167193.
Preyer Gerhard. 2003. “What is Wrong With Rejectionists?” In Interpretation, Sprache und das Soziale: Philosophische Artikel (Interpretaion, Language and the Social: Philosophical Articles). Frankfurt am Main.
Quinton Anthony. 1975. “Social Objects.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 75: 127.
Schanck R. L. 1932. “A Study of a Community and Its Groups and Institutions Conceived As Behaviors of Individuals.” Psychological Monographs 43.
Schmitt Frederick. 1994. “The Justification of Group Beliefs.” In Socializing Epistemology: The Social Dimensions of Knowledge, Schmitt Frederick F., ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 257–88.
Searle John R. 1995. The Construction of Social Reality. New York: The Free Press.
Steup Matthias, ed. 2001. Knowledge, Truth, and Duty. New York: Oxford University Press.
Tollefsen Deborah. 2002a. “Challenging Epistemic Individualism.” Protosociology 16: 86117.
Tollefsen Deborah. 2002b. “Organizations as True Believers.” Journal of Social Philosophy 23: 395410.
Tollefsen Deborah. 2003. “Rejecting Rejectionism.” Protosociology 18/19: 389405.
Tuomela Raimo. 1995. The Importance of Us: A Philosophical Study of Basic Social Notions. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Tuomela Raimo. 1992. “Group Beliefs.” Synthese 91: 285318.
Tuomela Raimo. 2000. “Belief versus Acceptance.” Philosophical Explorations 2: 122137.
Tuomela Raimo. 2004. “Group Knowledge Analyzed.” Episteme 1(2): 109127.
Velleman J. David. 2000. “On the Aim of Belief.” In The Possibility of Practical Reason. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 244281.
Wedgwood Ralph. 2002. “The Aim of Belief.” Philosophical Perspectives 16: 267297.
Williams Bernard. 1973. “Deciding to Believe.” In Problems of the Self: Philosophical Papers 1956-1972. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 135151.
Wray K. Brad. 2001. “Collective Belief and Acceptance.” Synthese 129: 319333.
Wray K. Brad. 2003. “What Really Divides Gilbert and the Rejectionists?Protosociology 18/19: 363376.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 1742-3600
  • EISSN: 1750-0117
  • URL: /core/journals/episteme
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 41 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 244 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.