Can Epistemic Predicates Be Applied?

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Can epistemic predicates be applied literally to groups? In this essay I will argue that we have reason to believe we can apply epistemic predicates literally to groups. By arguing for a reformulation of the knowledge-belief relationship to allow for the possibility of acceptance-based knowledge instead of belief-based knowledge, I will show how it is a possible to create a more flexible, informative typology of epistemic agents which will allow us to apply epistemic predicates literally to groups without bringing the debate too far into the realms of group psychology. One pitfall that writers such as Tollefsen (2004) and Geirsson (2004) often fall into is not detangling fully the distinction between group ‘knowledge’ and group ‘belief’. These writers commonly treat epistemology as predicated upon psychology, and psychology upon more basic metaphysical distinctions. Some elements of this relationship certainly hold; the link between ontological distinctions and psychological ones seems conceptually necessary. An argument about whether groups can literally believe something is meaningless if groups cannot be said to have any distinct existence in the ontological sense from its members. This is not my concern: it is the relation between psychology and epistemology that I wish to question. There are two positions commonly taken in social epistemology: that groups can have beliefs and thus knowledge (Tollefsen, 2004), or that groups cannot have beliefs and thus cannot
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