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Alvin I. Goldman

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195138795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195138791.001.0001

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Social Routes to Belief and Knowledge

Social Routes to Belief and Knowledge

(p.164) 8 Social Routes to Belief and Knowledge
Pathways to Knowledge

Alvin I. Goldman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Social scientists often investigate the social propagation of belief, but social epistemology is interested in the social routes to true (or false) beliefs. One approach to the social propagation of belief is “memetics,” a selectionist account of belief propagation modeled on biological evolution. This chapter examines the prospects for a contagion approach to primitive cases of belief transmission, modeled on emotion transmission. However, if any such approach is to be useful for social epistemology, one must consider the truth‐conduciveness of primitive speech and acceptance dispositions. Building partly on suggestions of Thomas Reid, some possible implications of a contagion, or epidemiological model, are explored.

Keywords:   acceptance, contagion, evolution, memetics, Reid, social epistemology, speech

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