030078 Social Epistemology: Diversity and Wisdom of the Crowds (Michelini)

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Have you ever wondered whether asking a large group of people to take political decisions is epistemically sound? Are you curious if an assembly of everyday (but diverse) citizens can outshine seasoned politicians in leading a city? Intrigued by whether or not a jury of laypeople surpasses a single worldly juror in judging defendants? If so, this course is made for you. In recent years, philosophers have engaged in an ongoing debate to determine which communities excel at finding epistemic solutions and making informed decisions. This discussion has generated two fascinating hypotheses: 1. Diverse groups of problem-solvers trump non-diverse experts in decision-making. 2. Large groups of people, under specific conditions, exhibit remarkable epistemic accuracy (Wisdom Of the Crowd). The implications of these hypotheses are profound. For instance, the second point serves as an epistemic justification for democracy, as it posits that democracy is the superior political system for making correct decisions. In this course, we delve into the arguments supporting and challenging both hypotheses, and explore their socio-epistemological validity. We also dedicate a brief section of the course to analyzing computational models that bolster these hypotheses. Furthermore, we discuss the role of these arguments in political philosophy, drawing parallels with the notions of epistemic diversity and epistemic performance in philosophy of science. The course aims at fostering discussion among students through activities and "games" during the lectures. You will be encouraged to write and discuss various aspects of the topic. The course will be conducted in English, and the reading list will be provided as the course progresses. No prior knowledge is required to enroll.