Volume 6, Issue 1, 2014
Group Minds and the Problem of the First Belief
This article presents theories of group belief with a problem. It is conceptually and psychologically impossible for there to be a believer with just one belief. For
conceptual reasons, a single belief could not have any content without the background of other beliefs. Or even if it could, it would for psychological reasons be impossible for the believer to know or understand the content of its sole belief. With certain plausible assumptions, however, groups would at some point of time have to have only one belief. (The assumption of discontinuity between the group’s and its members’ commitments leads to this.) If it is conceptually or psychologically impossible for the group to acquire its first belief, it can never come to acquire any beliefs at all. The article ends by discussing
various ways out of this dilemma.