Social structure and the effects of conformity

Synthese 172 (3):317-340 (2010)

Authors
Kevin Zollman
Carnegie Mellon University
Abstract
Conformity is an often criticized feature of human belief formation. Although generally regarded as a negative influence on reliability, it has not been widely studied. This paper attempts to determine the epistemic effects of conformity by analyzing a mathematical model of this behavior. In addition to investigating the effect of conformity on the reliability of individuals and groups, this paper attempts to determine the optimal structure for conformity. That is, supposing that conformity is inevitable, what is the best way for conformity effects to occur? The paper finds that in some contexts conformity effects are reliability inducing and, more surprisingly even when it is counterproductive, not all methods for reducing its effect are helpful. These conclusions contribute to a larger discussion in social epistemology regarding the effect of social behavior on individual reliability.
Keywords Philosophy   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language   Logic   Epistemology   Computer Science, general   Philosophy of Science
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-008-9393-8
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge in a Social World.Alvin I. Goldman - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
The Division of Cognitive Labor.Philip Kitcher - 1990 - Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):5-22.

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Citations of this work BETA

Social Network Structure and the Achievement of Consensus.K. J. Zollman - 2012 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (1):26-44.
Epistemic Trust and Liberal Justification.Michael Fuerstein - 2013 - Journal of Political Philosophy 21 (2):179-199.

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