Formal Modeling in Social Epistemology
Special issue of the Logic Journal of the IGPL
ed. by Stephan Hartmann, Carlo Martini and Jan Sprenger


Social epistemology is a relatively new and booming field of research. It studies the social dimension of the pursuit of acquiring true beliefs and requires philosophical as well as sociological and economic expertise. The insights gained in social epistemology are not only of theoretical interest; they also improve our understanding of social and political processes, as the field includes the analysis of group deliberation and group decision-making. However, surprisingly little work has so far been done on the epistemic properties of group deliberation, belief aggregation and decision-making procedures. To close this gap, the construction and analysis of formal models are especially promising as formal modeling combines representational adequacy with instructive analytical results. This special issue collects papers that follow this strategy from the point of view of different disciplines.

A familiar strategy of describing the collective pursuit of knowledge consists in setting up an economic model of how scientists contribute to research programs, pursue incentives and collect rewards. De Langhe and Greiff elaborate the consequences of such a model and draw conclusions on how knowledge is produced, and the role of consent and dissent in science. A similar perspective is adopted by Zamora who describes how methodological norms in science can be embedded into the “game of science”. Weirich's contribution is also inspired by game theory: he investigates whether rational players will achieve an efficient outcome in an (ideal) coalitional game.

The three remaining papers adopt a mathematical or statistical take. Douven and Riegler apply a mathematical model by Hegselmann and Krause to a number of normative questions in social epistemology. Wagner examines under which circumstances opinion pooling commutes with Jeffrey updating. Finally, Hartmann and Sprenger present an analysis of information pooling under a more realistic loss function.

Predecessors of the papers published in this special issue were presented at the workshop “Formal Modeling in Social Epistemology”, which took place at the Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS) in October 2008. The workshop was made possible by the generous financial support from the Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie (GAP), the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW), and TiLPS. We would also like to thank the authors and referees of the papers for their work, and Dov Gabbay for his support and encouragement.


Table of contents

Rogier De Langhe and Matthias Greiff: Standards and the Distribution of Cognitive Labour

Jesús Zamora Bonilla: Science: The Rules of the Game

Paul Weirich: Does Collective Rationality Entail Efficiency?

Igor Douven and Alexander Riegler:  Extending the Hegselmann-Krause Model I

Carl Wagner: Jeffrey Conditioning and External Bayesianity

Stephan Hartmann and Jan Sprenger: The Weight of Competence under a Realistic Loss Function