Analyse & Kritik
Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory
Ed. by Baurmann, Michael / Leist, Anton / Tranow, Ulf
The claim that diversity and independence have a net positive epistemic effect on the judgments of groups has been recently defended formally by Scott Page, among others, and popularized in Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds. In Meta-Induction and the Wisdom of Crowds Thorn and Schurz take issue with the claim that more diversity and independence in groups leads to better collective judgments. I argue that Thorn and Schurz's arguments are helpful in clarifying a number of over-generalizations about diversity and independence that are often circulated in the social epistemology literature. I also argue that the relevant formal arguments are easily misunderstood when presented 'in a vacuum', that is, without a context of application in mind. I provide a different approach to understanding formal results in social epistemology: With the help of concrete scenarios and the formal literature, I focus on a trade-off between independence and dependence in groups. I show that the approach works well also for another principle in social epistemology; namely, the principle that 'more heads are better than few'.