Southwest Philosophy Review 20 (2):163-166 (2004)

Heimir Geirsson
Iowa State University
In a couple of recent papers Deborah Tollefsen has argued that groups should be viewed as having some of the intentional and epistemic properties as do individuals. In “Organizations as True Believers” she argues that corporations really do have intentional states.1 In “Collective Epistemic Agency”2 she continues her development of group agency and she now argues that collectives can be genuine knowers. The target of her arguments is, naturally, the wide spread view that “knowers are individuals, and knowledge is generated by mental processes and lodged in the mind-brain.”3 According to Tollefsen, “An epistemic agent is a deliberator that is subject to epistemic assessment; she can be charged with incoherency, inconsistency, ambiguity, and so on.”4 Further, “To be a deliberator in the rich sense in which you or I deliberate is to be subject to the immediacy that is characteristic of reason. When we engage in reasoning (and assuming we have the appropriate desires) we are moved to act immediately or think in accordance with the reasons that we arrive at through deliberation.”5 When we identify which attitudes and acts should be shaped or informed, then such identification takes place from a point of view. Typically, the point of view is the first person singular I, but Tollefsen argues that reflections on group deliberation show that the we-concept often marks the point of view in question. So, Tollefsen argues in effect that 1. A group can be a deliberator 2. A deliberator, in the sense being discussed, is an epistemic agent 3. An epistemic agent can have knowledge 4. So a group can have knowledge. The bulk of Tollefsen’s paper, “Collective Epistemic Agency,” is focused on arguing that (1) is true, i.e., that a group can be a deliberator. One of the examples she uses to make her case involves the decision made by a college admissions committee. The three committee members consider each candidate and vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether or not the candidate should be accepted into the program..
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0897-2346
DOI 10.5840/swphilreview200420239
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References found in this work BETA

Organizations as True Believers.Deborah Tollefsen - 2002 - Journal of Social Philosophy 33 (3):395–410.
Foundations of Social Epistemics.Alvin I. Goldman - 1987 - Synthese 73 (1):109 - 144.
Collective Epistemic Agency.Deborah Tollefsen - 2004 - Southwest Philosophy Review 20 (1):55-66.

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Citations of this work BETA

On the Possibility of Group Knowledge Without Belief.Raul Hakli - 2007 - Social Epistemology 21 (3):249 – 266.

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