•  142
    The standard view says that epistemic normativity is normativity of belief. If you’re an evidentialist, for example, you’ll think that all epistemic reasons are reasons to believe what your evidence supports. Here we present a line of argument that pushes back against this standard view. If the argument is right, there are epistemic reasons for things other than belief. The argument starts with evidentialist commitments and proceeds by a series of cases, each containing a reason. As the cases pr…Read more
  •  32
    Don’t forget forgetting: the social epistemic importance of how we forget
    with Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, Bennett Holman, Karen Kovaka, Jiin Jung, and William J. Berger
    Synthese 1-22. forthcoming.
    We motivate a picture of social epistemology that sees forgetting as subject to epistemic evaluation. Using computer simulations of a simple agent-based model, we show that how agents forget can have as large an impact on group epistemic outcomes as how they share information. But, how we forget, unlike how we form beliefs, isn’t typically taken to be the sort of thing that can be epistemically rational or justified. We consider what we take to be the most promising argument for this claim and f…Read more
  •  20
    Demoting promoting objections to epistemic consequentialism
    Philosophical Issues 29 (1): 268-280. 2019.
    Philosophical Issues, EarlyView.
  •  21
    Diversity, Ability, and Expertise in Epistemic Communities
    with Patrick Grim, Aaron Bramson, Bennett Holman, Sean McGeehan, and William J. Berger
    Philosophy of Science 86 (1): 98-123. 2019.
    The Hong and Page ‘diversity trumps ability’ result has been used to argue for the more general claim that a diverse set of agents is epistemically superior to a comparable group of experts. Here we extend Hong and Page’s model to landscapes of different degrees of randomness and demonstrate the sensitivity of the ‘diversity trumps ability’ result. This analysis offers a more nuanced picture of how diversity, ability, and expertise may relate. Although models of this sort can indeed be suggestiv…Read more
  •  33
    Diversity, Not Randomness, Trumps Ability
    Philosophy of Science 86 (1): 178-191. 2019.
    A number of formal models, including a highly influential model from Hong and Page, purport to show that functionally diverse groups often beat groups of individually high-performing agents in solving problems. Thompson argues that in Hong and Page’s model, that the diverse groups are created by a random process explains their success, not the diversity. Here, I defend the diversity interpretation of the Hong and Page result. The failure of Thompson’s argument shows that to understand the value …Read more
  •  15
    Representation in models of epistemic democracy
    with Patrick Grim, Aaron Bramson, William J. Berger, Jiin Jung, and Scott E. Page
    Episteme 1-21. forthcoming.
    Epistemic justifications for democracy have been offered in terms of two different aspects of decision-making: voting and deliberation, or ‘votes’ and ‘talk.’ The Condorcet Jury Theorem is appealed to as a justification in terms votes, and the Hong-Page “Diversity Trumps Ability” result is appealed to as a justification in terms of deliberation. Both of these, however, are most plausibly construed as models of direct democracy, with full and direct participation across the population. In this pa…Read more
  •  22
    Correction to: Rational social and political polarization
    with Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, Bennett Holman, Jiin Jung, Karen Kovaka, Anika Ranginani, and William J. Berger
    Philosophical Studies 176 (9): 2269-2269. 2019.
    In the original publication of the article, the Acknowledgement section was inadvertently not included. The Acknowledgement is given in this Correction.
  •  91
    Rational social and political polarization
    with Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, Bennett Holman, Jiin Jung, Karen Kovaka, Anika Ranginani, and William J. Berger
    Philosophical Studies 176 (9): 2243-2267. 2019.
    Public discussions of political and social issues are often characterized by deep and persistent polarization. In social psychology, it’s standard to treat belief polarization as the product of epistemic irrationality. In contrast, we argue that the persistent disagreement that grounds political and social polarization can be produced by epistemically rational agents, when those agents have limited cognitive resources. Using an agent-based model of group deliberation, we show that groups of deli…Read more
  •  53
    Permissible Epistemic Trade-Offs
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (2): 281-293. 2019.
    ABSTRACTRecent rejections of epistemic consequentialism, like those from Firth, Jenkins, Berker, and Greaves, have argued that consequentialism is committed to objectionable trade-offs and suggest...
  •  133
    How to be an Epistemic Consequentialist
    Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272): 580-602. 2018.
    Epistemic consequentialists think that epistemic norms are about believing the truth and avoiding error. Recently, a number of authors have rejected epistemic consequentialism on the basis that it incorrectly sanctions tradeoffs of epistemic goodness. Here, I argue that epistemic consequentialists should borrow two lessons from ethical consequentialists to respond to these worries. Epistemic consequentialists should construe their view as an account of right belief, which they distinguish from o…Read more
  •  45
    Understanding Polarization: Meanings, Measures, and Model Evaluation
    with Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, William J. Berger, Graham Sack, Steven Fisher, Carissa Flocken, and Bennett Holman
    Philosophy of Science 84 (1): 115-159. 2017.
    Polarization is a topic of intense interest among social scientists, but there is significant disagreement regarding the character of the phenomenon and little understanding of underlying mechanics. A first problem, we argue, is that polarization appears in the literature as not one concept but many. In the first part of the article, we distinguish nine phenomena that may be considered polarization, with suggestions of appropriate measures for each. In the second part of the article, we apply th…Read more
  •  29
    Germs, Genes, and Memes: Function and Fitness Dynamics on Information Networks
    with Patrick Grim, Christopher Reade, and Steven Fisher
    Philosophy of Science 82 (2): 219-243. 2015.
    Understanding the dynamics of information is crucial to many areas of research, both inside and outside of philosophy. Using computer simulations of three kinds of information, germs, genes, and memes, we show that the mechanism of information transfer often swamps network structure in terms of its effects on both the dynamics and the fitness of the information. This insight has both obvious and subtle implications for a number of questions in philosophy, including questions about the nature of …Read more
  •  66
    Scientific Networks on Data Landscapes: Question Difficulty, Epistemic Success, and Convergence
    with Patrick Grim, Steven Fisher, Aaron Bramson, William J. Berger, Christopher Reade, Carissa Flocken, and Adam Sales
    Episteme 10 (4): 441-464. 2013.
    A scientific community can be modeled as a collection of epistemic agents attempting to answer questions, in part by communicating about their hypotheses and results. We can treat the pathways of scientific communication as a network. When we do, it becomes clear that the interaction between the structure of the network and the nature of the question under investigation affects epistemic desiderata, including accuracy and speed to community consensus. Here we build on previous work, both our own…Read more
  •  657
    Mind the Is-Ought Gap
    Journal of Philosophy 112 (4): 193-210. 2015.
    The is-ought gap is Hume’s claim that we can’t get an ‘ought’ from just ‘is’s. Prior (“The Autonomy of Ethics,” 1960) showed that its most straightforward formulation, a staple of introductory philosophy classes, fails. Many authors attempt to resurrect the claim by restricting its domain syntactically or by reformulating it in terms of models of deontic logic. Those attempts prove to be complex, incomplete, or incorrect. I provide a simple reformulation of the is-ought gap that closely fits Hum…Read more
  •  72
    Sleeping beauty should be imprecise
    Synthese 191 (14): 3159-3172. 2014.
    The traditional solutions to the Sleeping Beauty problem say that Beauty should have either a sharp 1/3 or sharp 1/2 credence that the coin flip was heads when she wakes. But Beauty’s evidence is incomplete so that it doesn’t warrant a precise credence, I claim. Instead, Beauty ought to have a properly imprecise credence when she wakes. In particular, her representor ought to assign \(R(H\!eads)=[0,1/2]\) . I show, perhaps surprisingly, that this solution can account for the many of the intuitio…Read more