Collective Belief And Acceptance

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

Margaret Gilbert explores the phenomenon referredto in everyday ascriptions ofbeliefs to groups. She refers to this type ofphenomenon as ``collective belief'' andcalls the types of groups that are the bearersof such beliefs ``plural subjects''. Iargue that the attitudes that groups adoptthat Gilbert refers to as ``collectivebeliefs'' are not a species of belief in animportant and central sense, but rathera species of acceptance. Unlike proper beliefs,a collective belief is adopted bya group as a means to realizing the group'sgoals. Unless we recognize that thisphenomenon is a species of acceptance, pluralsubjects will seem prone to changetheir ``beliefs'' for irrelevant reasons, andthus frequently appear to act in anirrational manner.

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