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Essays in Collective Epistemology$
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Jennifer Lackey

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199665792

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665792.001.0001

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Social Process Reliabilism

Social Process Reliabilism

Solving Justification Problems in Collective Epistemology

(p.11) 1 Social Process Reliabilism
Essays in Collective Epistemology

Alvin I. Goldman

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the justificational status of collective beliefs. When the Bush Administration believed (assuming its belief was genuine) that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, was it justified in so believing? It raises and explores problems about the relations between the justificational status of a group’s beliefs and those of its members. To what extent (if any) is this analogous to the relations within an individual between the justificational statuses of its own beliefs? Specifically, does “transmission” occur between the J-status of a group belief and the J-statuses of its members’ beliefs? The second half of the chapter advances a specific theory of justifiedness for collective belief, one borrowed and adapted from individual epistemology. This is the theory of process reliabilism. The chapter defends the thesis that the principal elements of process reliabilism, including its causal and historical features, apply (with suitable modifications) to the case of collective belief.

Keywords:   collective belief, Condorcet Jury Theorem, epistemic justification, justificational dependence, groups, historicity of justification, judgment aggregation, reliabilism, testimony, transmission

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