Volume 49, Issue 2, Fall 2021
What Is Social Epistemic Dependence?
A central theme in social epistemology is that there are important and underappreciated phenomena involving social epistemic dependence—that is, epistemic dependence on other persons and on features of the broader social environment. Epistemologies that are inconsistent with this kind of dependence are labeled “individualist” and epistemologies that accommodate it are labeled “anti-individualist.” But how should the relevant notion of social epistemic dependence be understood? One important criterion for an adequate account is that it plausibly sorts epistemologies into the “individualist” and “anti-individualist” categories. For example, standard reductionism about testimonial justification and knowledge should count as individualist, and many trust theories should count as anti-individualist. This paper argues that several accounts of social epistemic dependence in the literature fail to pass this simple sorting test. An alternative account that does is proposed.