Knowledge as a collective status

Analytic Philosophy 63 (4):277-304 (2021)
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While social epistemology is a diverse field, much of it still understands knowledge as an individual status—albeit an individual status that crucially depends on various social factors (such as testimony). Further, the literature on group knowledge until now has primarily focused on limited, specialized groups that may be said to know this or that as a group. I wish to argue, to the contrary, that all knowledge-attributions ascribe a collective status; and that this follows more or less directly from an essential function of entitlement-ascriptions: Ascriptions of knowledge and entitlement serve a primarily social function in that they facilitate coordination by maintaining consensus around true beliefs, true theories, and truth-producing methodologies. This conclusion will shed light on ways in which traditional theories of knowledge (such as foundationalism and coherentism) fail to capture a central function of our epistemic practice.

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Jeremy Koons
Georgetown University

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