Group belief reconceived

Jeroen de Ridder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


An influential account or group belief analyzes it as a form of joint commitment by group members. In spite of its popularity, the account faces daunting objections. I consider and reply to two of them. The first, due to Jennifer Lackey, is that the joint commitment account fails as an account of group belief since it cannot distinguish group beliefs from group lies and bullshit. The second is that the joint commitment account fails because it makes group belief voluntary, whereas genuine belief is involuntary. I propose an amendment to the basic joint commitment account which offers a unified reply to both objections. Although my novel account of group belief departs from the basic joint commitment account, it retains its spirit. The account entails that genuine group belief is much rarer than proponents of the joint commitment account have hitherto realized.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Early online date15 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to thank Matteo Colombo, Dominik Klein, Jan Sprenger, and the audience at the OZSW conference in Rotterdam in 2013 for helpful discussions about the topic of this paper. Thanks are also due to Jennifer Lackey, Kelvin McQueen, Rik Peels, Emanuel Rutten, Arthur Schipper, René van Woudenberg, Jan Willem Wieland, and K. Brad Wray for detailed suggestions about previous versions of this paper. Two anonymous referees also deserve thanks for their insightful and constructive comments. Part of the work for this paper was supported by a Vidi grant (276-20-024) from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and a grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of NWO or the TWCF.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Aim of belief
  • Doxastic involuntarism
  • Group belief
  • Jennifer Lackey
  • Joint acceptance
  • Joint commitment


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