Chapter

The Epistemic Desideratum

Christian List and Philip Pettit

in Group Agency

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199591565
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725494 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199591565.003.0005
The Epistemic Desideratum

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This is the first of three chapters devoted to how group agents can be designed to satisfy various intuitive desiderata. It presents an epistemic desideratum, understood as the requirement that the group should form reliable beliefs, which are both “truth-tracking” and “truth-indicative”. An agent “tracks the truth” to the extent that if p is true, the agent judges that p, and if p is false, it does not do so. The agent “indicates the truth” to the extent that if it judges that p, then p is indeed true, and if it does not judge that p, then p is false. Good diagnostic tests, for example, track as well as indicate the truth on their target proposition. The chapter explores organizational structures by which a group agent might perform well at truth-tracking and truth-indication and identifies strategies, described as democratization, decomposition and decentralization, for promoting that goal. These will not guarantee a fully satisfactory performance but they can help to promote it.

Keywords: truth-tracking; truth-indication; democratization; decomposition; decentralization

Chapter.  9928 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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