A Theory of Bayesian Groups

Noûs 53 (3):708-736 (2017)
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A group is often construed as one agent with its own probabilistic beliefs (credences), which are obtained by aggregating those of the individuals, for instance through averaging. In their celebrated “Groupthink”, Russell et al. (2015) require group credences to undergo Bayesian revision whenever new information is learnt, i.e., whenever individual credences undergo Bayesian revision based on this information. To obtain a fully Bayesian group, one should often extend this requirement to non-public or even private information (learnt by not all or just one individual), or to non-representable information (not representable by any event in the domain where credences are held). I pro- pose a taxonomy of six types of ‘group Bayesianism’. They differ in the information for which Bayesian revision of group credences is required: public representable information, private representable information, public non-representable information, etc. Six corre- sponding theorems establish how individual credences must (not) be aggregated to ensure group Bayesianism of any type, respectively. Aggregating through standard averaging is never permitted; instead, different forms of geometric averaging must be used. One theorem—that for public representable information—is essentially Russell et al.’s central result (with minor corrections). Another theorem—that for public non-representable information—fills a gap in the theory of externally Bayesian opinion pooling.

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Franz Dietrich
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique


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