Social Routes to Belief and Knowledge

Alvin I. Goldman

in Pathways to Knowledge

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195138795
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833252 | DOI:
 Social Routes to Belief and Knowledge

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Social scientists often investigate the social propagation of belief, but social epistemology is interested in the social routes to true (or false) beliefs. One approach to the social propagation of belief is “memetics,” a selectionist account of belief propagation modeled on biological evolution. This chapter examines the prospects for a contagion approach to primitive cases of belief transmission, modeled on emotion transmission. However, if any such approach is to be useful for social epistemology, one must consider the truth‐conduciveness of primitive speech and acceptance dispositions. Building partly on suggestions of Thomas Reid, some possible implications of a contagion, or epidemiological model, are explored.

Keywords: acceptance; contagion; evolution; memetics; Reid; social epistemology; speech

Chapter.  8145 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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