Collective Wisdom and Individual Freedom

Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (S1):168-176 (2006)
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Abstract

The paper distinguishes two ways of understanding a wise society. A society can be wise by virtue of possessing mostly true evaluative beliefs. Or it can be wise by virtue of employing rational procedures of collective belief formation. If the first possibility involves the society’s being, in Margaret Gilbert’s sense, a plural subject of evaluative beliefs, social wisdom will, as Gilbert says, entail an abridgement of individual freedom. But, this paper argues, if a society’s being wise is understood as its employing rational procedures of collective belief formation, social wisdom positively requires individual freedom.

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Christopher McMahon
University of California at Santa Barbara

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