Group understanding

Synthese 198 (7):6837-6858 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

While social epistemologists have recently begun addressing questions about whether groups can possess beliefs or knowledge, little has yet been said about whether groups can properly be said to possess understanding. Here I want to make some progress on this question by considering two possible accounts of group understanding, modeled on accounts of group belief and knowledge: a deflationary account, according to which a group understands just in case most or all of its members understand, and an inflationary account, according to which a group’s understanding does not depend solely on whether its members understand. I argue that both accounts face problems. The deflationary account has two such problems: aggregation problems that are familiar from discussions of group belief, and the problem of different bases, wherein members possess understanding for different but consistent reasons. The inflationary account faces what I call the problem of distributed grasping: while it is widely accepted that understanding requires a kind of “grasping”, it is hard to make sense of how this requirement could be met at the group level while not necessarily being met by any individual member. Despite its problems, I make a case for the inflationary account. This will require addressing the problem of distributed grasping: to do this, I propose a different way of thinking about the grasping relation at the group level, such that it is constituted by a dependency relationship between members.

Similar books and articles

Modelling collective belief.Margaret Gilbert - 1987 - Synthese 73 (1):185-204.
What Is Justified Group Belief.Jennifer Lackey - 2016 - Philosophical Review Recent Issues 125 (3):341-396.
Moral understanding and knowledge.Amber Riaz - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (1):113-128.
Group beliefs.Raimo Tuomela - 1992 - Synthese 91 (3):285-318.
Commitments in Groups and Commitments of Groups.Jacob D. Heim - 2015 - Phenomenology and Mind 1 (9):74-82.
On the possibility of group knowledge without belief.Raul Hakli - 2007 - Social Epistemology 21 (3):249 – 266.
Changing Our Mind.Glen Pettigrove - 2016 - In Michael Brady & Miranda Fricker (eds.), The Epistemic Life of Groups: Essays in the Epistemology of Collectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 111-129.
Understanding and Coming to Understand.Michael Lynch - 2017 - In Stephen R. Grimm (ed.), Making Sense of the World: New Essays on the Philosophy of Understanding. New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press.
Group Assertion.Jennifer Lackey - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (1):21-42.
Group wrongs and guilt feelings.Margaret Gilbert - 1997 - The Journal of Ethics 1 (1):65-84.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-11-23

Downloads
612 (#29,018)

6 months
118 (#35,210)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Kenneth Boyd
University of Toronto, St. George Campus (PhD)

References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Noam Chomsky - 1965 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Group agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents.Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Philip Pettit.

View all 43 references / Add more references