Erkenntnis:1-22 (forthcoming)

Robert Williams
University of Leeds
Information can be public among a group. Whether or not information is public matters, for example, for accounts of interdependent rational choice, of communication, and of joint intention. A standard analysis of public information identifies it with common belief. The latter notion is stipulatively defined as an infinite conjunction: for p to be commonly believed is for it to believed by all members of a group, for all members to believe that all members believe it, and so forth. This analysis is often presupposed without much argument in philosophy. Theoretical entrenchment or intuitions about cases might give some traction on the question, but give little insight about why the identification holds, if it does. The strategy of this paper is to characterize a practical-normative role for information being public, and show that the only things that play that role are common belief as stipulatively characterized. In more detail: a functional role for “taking a proposition for granted” in non-isolated decision making is characterized. I then present some minimal conditions under which such an attitude is correctly held. The key assumption links this attitude to beliefs about what is public. From minimal a priori principles, we can argue that a proposition being public among a group entails common commitment to believe among that group. Later sections explore partial converses to this result, the factivity of publicity and publicity from the perspective of outsiders to the group, and objections to the aprioricity of the result deriving from a posteriori existential presuppositions.
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-021-00393-x
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References found in this work BETA

Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Kellogg Lewis - 1969 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Modal Logic as Metaphysics.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
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