Synthese 129 (3):319-333 (2001)

Margaret Gilbert explores the phenomenon referred to in everyday ascriptions of beliefs to groups. She refers to this type of phenomenon as "collective belief" and calls the types of groups that are the bearers of such beliefs "plural subjects". I argue that the attitudes that groups adopt that Gilbert refers to as "collective beliefs" are not a species of belief in an important and central sense, but rather a species of acceptance. Unlike proper beliefs, a collective belief is adopted by a group as a means to realizing the group's goals. Unless we recognize that this phenomenon is a species of acceptance, plural subjects will seem prone to change their "beliefs" for irrelevant reasons, and thus frequently appear to act in an irrational manner.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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DOI 10.1023/A:1013148515033
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