What's so Good About a Wise and Knowledgeable Public?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Kristoffer Ahlström
Political philosophers have been concerned for some time with the epistemic caliber of the general public, qua the body that is, ultimately, tasked with political decision-making in democratic societies. Unfortunately, the empirical data paints a pretty dismal picture here, indicating that the public tends to be largely ignorant on the issues relevant to governance. To make matters worse, social psychological research on how ignorance tends to breed overconfidence gives us reason to believe that the public will not only lack knowledge on the relevant issues, but also wisdom, in the Socratic sense of an awareness of your ignorance. It might be thought that an obvious remedy would be to increase the knowledge and wisdom of the public. However, as far as sound political decision-making and action is concerned, there is nothing particularly valuable about knowledge or wisdom per se—irrespective of what account of wisdom available in the literature we opt for. In fact, it might just be that what the public needs is nothing but the most basic epistemic good: true belief.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Analytica
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)199-216
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ID: 34528316