PoS seminar 5.10. with Säde Hormio

At the Perspectives on Science seminar on Monday 5.10., Säde Hormio (University of Helsinki) will give a presentation titled “Group Lies.  The seminar will be organized as an online meeting in Zoom from 2-4 pm.  Zoom is an online conference tool supported by University of Helsinki.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT, the Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

To join the seminar please contact tatu.nuotio(a)helsinki.fi or kaisla.kareoja(a)helsinki.fi. Information about using Zoom can be found here.

Author bio:
Säde Hormio is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Practical Philosophy in the University of Helsinki and a member of TINT. Her research focuses on shared and collective responsibility. She is also interested in questions of social epistemology, of knowledge and ignorance, and the mechanisms that can cause institutional ignorance, either deliberately or by accident. Read more at shormio.wordpress.com.

To tell a lie is to make a statement that you believe to be untrue, but want the addressee(s) to believe. In this paper, I will discuss what it is for groups to lie. The position of a group agent on a given issue is not necessarily shared by their individual members. Instead, a group belief, decision, position, statement etc. is often the product of a compromise to a certain degree. It is certainly a product of people acting within their roles. The decisions and course of action that members vote for might not be what they would opt for in their private lives, but is instead what they believe to be in the best interest of the group. So, while a group might believe ‘that p’, its members might not believe it.

The process of forming group beliefs involves the group members discussing available evidence, debating their options and coming up with the group position on an issue. However, this process can be easily manipulated. I suggest a narrative constraint for justified group beliefs. This is made up of two components, which I will call narrative intention and narrative coherence. Narrative intention looks at the process of gathering new evidence and requires that the justified group belief is formed in good faith. Narrative coherence looks at the relation of this new evidence to old, existing evidence, and requires that the new group belief cannot contradict with earlier group beliefs unless a coherent rationale for the change is given. I suggest that only when the group belief meets these two sub-conditions, it can be a justified group belief. Otherwise, there is room for a group lie.