Belief dependence: How do the numbers count?

Philosophical Studies 176 (2):297-319 (2019)
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Abstract

This paper is about how to aggregate outside opinion. If two experts are on one side of an issue, while three experts are on the other side, what should a non-expert believe? Certainly, the non-expert should take into account more than just the numbers. But which other factors are relevant, and why? According to the view developed here, one important factor is whether the experts should have been expected, in advance, to reach the same conclusion. When the agreement of two (or of twenty) thinkers can be predicted with certainty in advance, their shared belief is worth only as much as one of their beliefs would be worth alone. This expectational model of belief dependence can be applied whether we think in terms of credences or in terms of all-or-nothing beliefs.

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Zach Barnett
University of Notre Dame

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