Epistemic Solidarity as a Political Strategy

(with Robert E. Goodin). Episteme 12(4), 439-457, 2015. Preprint PDF

Solidarity is supposed to facilitate collective action. We argue that it can also help overcome false consciousness. Groups practice ‘epistemic solidarity’ if they pool information about what is in their true interest and how to vote accordingly. The more numerous ‘Masses’ can in this way overcome the ‘Elites,’ but only if they are minimally confident with whom they share the same interests and only if they are (perhaps only just) better-than-random in voting for the alternative that promotes their interests. Being more cohesive and more competent than the Masses, the Elites can employ the same strategy perhaps all the more effectively. But so long as the Masses practice epistemic solidarity they will almost always win, whether or not the Elites do. By enriching the traditional framework of the Condorcet Jury Theorem with group-specific standards of correctness, we investigate how groups can organize to support the alternatives truly in their interests.