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Condorcet and communitarianism: Boghossian’s fallacious inference

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This paper defends the communitarian account of meaning against Boghossian’s (Wittgensteinian) arguments. Boghossian argues that whilst such an account might be able to accommodate the infinitary characteristic of meaning, it cannot account for its normativity: he claims that, since the dispositions of a group must mirror those of its members, the former cannot be used to evaluate the latter. However, as this paper aims to make clear, this reasoning is fallacious. Modelling the issue with four (justifiable) assumptions, it shows that Condorcet’s ‘Jury Theorem’ can be used to prove that the dispositions of the majority of the members of a group can differ from those of any individual member in a way that makes it possible to use communal dispositions as a standard with which individual dispositions can be assessed. Moreover, the argument of the paper is also shown to have general implications for the use of formal methods in the explanation of the nature of certain fallacious inferences.

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