Sharing in truth: phenomenology of epistemic commonality

Hans Bernhard Schmid

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199594900
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Sharing in truth: phenomenology of epistemic commonality


This chapter investigates the idea of collective epistemic commonality suggested by Charles Taylor's example, and contrasts it with a distributive notion of epistemic commonality. It describes a number of accounts of collective epistemic commonality, and then argues that, contrary to what Taylor suggests, conversation is not constitutive of collective epistemic commonality as such, but rather presupposes basic forms of collective epistemic commonality. Taylor's remarks indicate that understanding the consensus is insufficient as whatever proposition people rationally and openly accept in conversation. It is suggested that joint (epistemic) attitudes are irreducible, relational, and pre-reflective, and that such attitudes are joint, in the respect that the participants are aware of themselves as a ‘we’. Highly inferential beliefs need some form of communication, and are probably really some form of joint commitment.

Keywords: collective epistemic commonality; Charles Taylor; conversation; inferential beliefs; communication; joint commitment

Article.  11344 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Epistemology

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