From Epistemic Diversity to Common Knowledge: Rational Rituals and Publicity in Democratic Athens

19 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2009

See all articles by Josiah Ober

Josiah Ober

Stanford University - Department of Classics

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

Effective organization of knowledge allows democracies to meet Darwinian challenges, and thus avoid elimination by more hierarchical rivals. Institutional processes capable of aggregating diverse knowledge and coordinating action promote the flourishing of democratic communities in competitive environments. Institutions that increase the credibility of commitments and build common knowledge are key aspects of democratic coordination. “Rational rituals,” through which credible commitments and common knowledge are effectively publicized, were prevalent in democratic Athens. Analysis of parts of Lycurgus’ speech Against Leocrates reveals some key features of the how rational rituals worked to build common knowledge in Athens. This paper, adapted from a book-in-progess, is fortthcoming in the journal Episteme.

Suggested Citation

Ober, Josiah, From Epistemic Diversity to Common Knowledge: Rational Rituals and Publicity in Democratic Athens (2006). Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics Paper No. 070603. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1426910 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1426910

Josiah Ober (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Classics ( email )

Building 110
Stanford, CA 94305-2080
United States
650-724-0868 (Phone)
650-723-1808 (Fax)

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