According to Margaret Gilbert’s collective epistemology, we should take attributions of beliefs to groups seriously, rather than metaphorically or as reducible to individual belief. I argue that, similarly, attributions of belief to markets ought to be taken seriously and not merely as reports of the average beliefs of market participants. While many of Gilbert’s purported examples of group belief are better thought of as instances of acceptance, some collectives, such as courts and markets, genuinely believe. Such collectives enact truth-aimed processes that are beyond the control of any single individual. These processes produce beliefs that are distinct from any individual belief and do not merely report the “average” or “majority” view of the group. In the case of markets, beliefs are indicated by prices, though it is often difficult to infer beliefs from prices and those inferences are almost always uncertain. Reliabilism is the best available standard of justification for market beliefs. In some cases market beliefs are reliable and prove to be true. Thus, in some cases markets can know.
KeywordsSocial epistemology Collective epistemology Markets Prediction markets
I am grateful to Michelle Hoffman for feedback on and editing of several versions of this paper, and to Joseph Berkovitz and Ori Werdiger for their constructive comments. Thank you to Mark Peacock, Marion Blute, Torsten Wilholt, and James Robert Brown for input on an earlier version of this work. Finally, I am very grateful for the excellent suggestions and critiques from two anonymous referees.
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