I'd like to lay out a few thoughts about how ideas rise and fall within communities. Is there a philosopher I can read that expresses these kinds of ideas better?
Some communities adopt ideas more as a matter of "fashion" - which is to say that social considerations dominate when it comes to choosing ideas. This may involve methods of thought like the following:
- A high status member of my community says X. Therefore, I will think or say X.
- Many of my friends say X. Therefore, I will think or say X.
- X is flattering to myself or my community, or unflattering to an opposing community. Therefore, I will think or say X.
- Someone contradicts X. Therefore, they are not part of my community and must be defeated rather than considered.
These tendencies are present in every community, but not to the same extent in every community.
Some communities have more "impersonal accountability." This is to say that there is an external, impersonal influence on the community, distinct from any of the above social methods of thought. Ideas in the community, as well as members of the community, rise or fall depending on how well they comport with the external, impersonal influence.
Most communities have some level of impersonal accountability, but again, the amount varies from community to community. Communities that lack external accountability circulate ideas among themselves only as a popularity contest, unmoored from impersonal facts or observations.
Competitive sports with objectively-measurable outcomes, such as scoring goals or obtaining a fast time around a track, involve impersonal accountability. The impersonal influence is whether the contestants win or lose. This is a strong influence that causes contestants to adopt ideas that help them win.
Hard science has a relatively high level of impersonal accountability, through experiments. Ideas that contradict experiments (the impersonal influence) tend to fall out of favor or be revised. Naturally, there is an element of fashion even in hard science; we are speaking of degrees, not in absolutes.
Prediction markets are another example of a community with impersonal accountability; those who make flawed predictions will lose money, pushing participants to make better predictions or drop out of the market.
Examples of communities with relatively low levels of impersonal accountability could include religious or political communities, or conspiracy theorists.
So, which philosophers should I read to learn how to better defend this type of perspective?