See here.

GETTIERIZED KNOBE EFFECTS James R. Beebe and Joseph Shea









Science as collective knowledge

Here is the into to Kristina’s article.

In contemporary philosophy of science it has become a truism to claim that scientific knowledge is social knowledge. Yet there is a diversity of views about what is “social” in scientific inquiry and why it is of epistemic interest (Rolin, 2004). One approach to understanding the “social” in science focuses on scientists’ social values, that is, value judgments concerning a desirable social order. A number of philosophers argue that social values are of epistemic interest because they affect, for good and bad, scientists’ assessment of theories and hypotheses (e.g., Anderson, 1995, Anderson, 2004, Kincaid et al., 2007, Lacey, 1999, Longino, 1990, Longino, 1995 and Machamer and Wolters, 2004). Another approach to understanding the “social” in science focuses on social relations among scientists. Some philosophers argue that collaboration among scientists is of epistemic interest because it contributes to the epistemic success of science (e.g., Thagard, 1999, Wray, 2002 and Wray, 2006). Others argue that a division of research effort among scientists is of epistemic interest because it contributes to the epistemic success of science (e.g., Hull, 1988, Kitcher, 1993 and Solomon, 2001). Yet others focus on the epistemic role of trust and testimony in science (e.g., Hardwig, 1991, Kitcher, 1992 and Shapin, 1994). And some philosophers use the notion of distributed cognition to analyze how the social organization of science contributes to its epistemic success (e.g., Giere, 2006). The two approaches to understanding the “social” in science are not exclusive of each other. Some philosophers, most notably Longino, 1990 and Longino, 2002, discuss both social values in science and social relations among scientists.

Gilbert (2000) introduces yet another dimension to this debate. She claims that scientific knowledge is social knowledge in the sense that it includes collective beliefs held by scientific communities. By collective beliefs she means beliefs which cannot be accounted for in a summative way. According to a summative account, a community believes that p if and only if all or most of the members of the community believe that p (Gilbert, 2000, p. 39). For Gilbert such beliefs are not properly speaking collective beliefs because a community believing that p in a summative sense can be reduced to its members believing that p. Collective beliefs in the proper sense of the term cannot be reduced to the members of the community believing that p. As Gilbert explains, “scientific communities do have scientific beliefs of their own” (2000, p. 38).

According to Gilbert, collective beliefs are held by communities as plural subjects. To say that a community as a plural subject believes that p means that the members of the community are jointly committed to believe as a body that p (Gilbert, 2000, pp. 39–41). A joint commitment creates obligations and rights among the community members (Gilbert, 2000, p. 40). A scientist’s participation in a joint commitment of the type in question requires her not to deny that p without qualification (Gilbert, 2000, p. 44). In case she denies that p without qualification, the other members of the community are in the position to call her on it (Gilbert, 2000, p. 40). A plural subject account of collective belief differs from a summative account of beliefs held by communities in an important respect. In a plural subject account of collective belief it is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition of a community believing that p that all or most of its members believe that p (Gilbert, 2000, p. 39). A community having a collective belief that p involves a consensus but, as Beatty explains, it is a “consensus at a different level”: not agreement concerning p but rather agreement to let p stand as the position of the group (Beatty, 2006, p. 53).

My aim is to explore to what extent scientific knowledge is properly understood as collective knowledge. By knowledge I mean justified true belief or acceptance (see also Wray, 2007). Thus, collective knowledge is justified true belief or acceptance held or arrived at by groups as plural subjects.1 In addressing the question to what extent scientific knowledge is collective knowledge, I focus on the part of the question inquiring to what extent scientific knowledge is held by groups of scientists as plural subjects and leave aside the part of the question inquiring to what extent scientific knowledge is true belief or acceptance. I assume that belief or acceptance has to be justified in some sense to deserve to be called scientific.

In Section 2, I discuss Gilbert (2000) view that scientific knowledge includes collective knowledge held by scientific communities. In Section 3, I discuss Wray (2007) argument for the claim that neither the scientific community as a whole nor the various communities that constitute particular sub-fields are capable of having collective knowledge. Wray (2007) argues contra Gilbert (2000) that merely research teams are capable of having collective knowledge. I argue contra Wray (2007) that collective knowledge is not limited to research teams. As Gilbert (2000) assumes, scientific communities are also capable of having collective knowledge. However, Gilbert’s account of collective knowledge in science is limited because it does not help us answer the question of why scientific communities have an interest in collective knowledge. In Section 4, I introduce a contextualist theory of epistemic justification in order to answer this question. In Section 5, I argue that scientific communities have an interest in collective knowledge because it enables them to establish a context of epistemic justification.


EPISTEME: 10 most cited articles

Group Knowledge and Group Rationality: A Judgment Aggregation Perspective

Christian List

Volume 2 / Issue 01 / June 2005, pp 25 – 38

Collective Epistemology

Margaret Gilbert

Volume 1 / Issue 02 / October 2004, pp 95 – 107

Group Knowledge Versus Group Rationality: Two Approaches to Social Epistemology

Alvin I. Goldman

Volume 1 / Issue 01 / June 2004, pp 11 – 22

Is Trust an Epistemological Notion?

Gloria Origgi

Volume 1 / Issue 01 / June 2004, pp 61 – 72

Minding One’s Cognitive Systems: When Does a Group of Minds Constitute a Single Cognitive Unit?

Robert Rupert

Volume 1 / Issue 03 / February 2005, pp 177 – 188

The Epistemic Features of Group Belief

Kay Mathiesen

Volume 2 / Issue 03 / October 2006, pp 161 – 175

Epistemic Systems

Roger Koppl

Volume 2 / Issue 02 / June 2006, pp 91 – 106

What’s the Point of “Knowledge” Anyway?

Christoph Kelp

Volume 8 / Issue 01 / February 2011, pp 53 – 66

The Basis of Epistemic Trust: Reliable Testimony or Reliable Sources?

Melissa A. Koenig and Paul L. Harris

Volume 4 / Issue 03 / October 2007, pp 264 – 284

Raimo Tuomela

Volume 1 / Issue 02 / October 2004, pp 109 – 127


Is Behavioral Economics Doomed?

Here is a skeptical take on the insights supposedly offered by the rise of behavioral economics as represented by Daniel Kahneman and others. Since I’m in the process of reviewing Kahneman it will be interesting to see if Levine’s take on behavioral economics jibes with my take on Kahneman in particular and behavioral economics in general – I have a strong sense that is unlikely to be the case.



Well, this article was inevitable – first mentioned here). Francis Heylighen has been talking about this for a few years now as has myself in discussing Hayek, distributed cognition and co-evolved mind and sociality not to mention my ongoing interest in stigmergy which I argue is a species of EM.

Abstract: This article explores the notion of the Web-extended mind, which is the idea that the technological and informational elements of the Web can sometimes serve as part of the mechanistic substrate that realizes human mental states and processes. It is argued that while current forms of the Web may not be particularly suited to the realization of Web-extended minds, new forms of user interaction technology as well as new approaches to information representation do provide promising new opportunities for Web-based forms of cognitive extension. In addition, it is suggested that extended cognitive systems often rely on the emergence of social practices and conventions that shape how a technology is used. Web-extended minds may thus depend on forms of socio-technical co-evolution in which social forces and factors play just as important a role as do the processes of technology design and development.

Keywords: cognition, cognitive extension, cognitive technology, extended mind, Internet, linked data, Web science, World Wide Web.


Hayek and Behavioral Economics: Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension

I see that the publisher now has a fully detailed page up for a volume that I’ve been privileged to be a part of. The Foreword is by a very nice chappie going by the name of V.Smith and includes luminaries such as McCloskey, Boettke, Gintis, Steel and others. My abstract:

Mindscapes and Landscapes: Hayek and Simon on Cognitive Extension

Hayek’s and Simon’s social externalism runs on a shared presupposition: mind is constrained in its computational capacity to detect, harvest, and assimilate “data” generated by the infinitely fine-grained and perpetually dynamic characteristic of experience in complex social environments. For Hayek, mind and sociality are co-evolved spontaneous orders, allowing little or no prospect of comprehensive explanation, trapped in a hermeneutically sealed, i.e. inescapably context bound, eco-system. For Simon, it is the simplicity of mind that is the bottleneck, overwhelmed by the ambient complexity of the environmental. Since on Simon’s account complexity is unidirectional, Simon is far more ebullient about the prospects of explanation. Hayek’s social externalism functions as a kind of distributed “extra-neural” memory store manifest as dynamic spontaneous orders. Simon’s organizational rule-governed externalism negotiates the “inner” world (the mind) with the “outer” world through a homeostatic interface that offloads the cognitive burden into the environment. Their respective externalisms may differ in detail but not in spirit in that it ameliorates their shared presupposition of cognitive constraint. Even though any “optimization talk” for Hayek and Simon is objectionable, knowledge acquisition can be represented by a contextualized stigmergic swarm optimization algorithm that gives due emphasis to both the individual and the environment. The key insight is that “perfect” knowledge is unnecessary, impracticable and indeed irrelevant if one understands the mechanism at work in complex sociality, a stigmergic sociality that in effect augments or scaffolds cognition.