About this topic
Summary Political epistemology lies at the intersection of political philosophy and epistemology. Put broadly, political epistemologists investigate the ways in which epistemological issues are at the center of our political lives. For example, they explore how claims of knowledge, truth, and expertise impact political decisions and forms of legitimate authority. Research in this domain ranges from asking questions about whether (and to what extent) legitimate authority hinges on epistemic evaluation of the process or outcome of political decisions to questions about epistemic virtues and vices of individuals in their role as political agents. Political epistemologists ask questions such as: which forms of government can leverage the collective wisdom of the public and to what extent does ignorance, propaganda, or misinformation undermine the legitimacy of collective decisions? What role should disagreement play in our political lives and how does disagreement impact society (i.e. does it lead to polarization or can it be productively leveraged to reveal blind spots based on different perspectives)? In what ways are socially and politically marginalized groups in a position of epistemic privilege vis-à-vis social structures? While the term ‘political epistemology’ is fairly new, scholars have been interested in topics at the intersection of political philosophy and epistemology at least since Plato. Until recently, however, the literature in both political philosophy and epistemology proceeded largely in their own siloes, without explicit reference to -- or common framing of -- the questions. This newer reframing of the subfield of political epistemology explicitly draws on the insights from both areas of philosophy (as well as cognate areas like political science and social psychology). As a result, the past few years have witnessed an outpouring of new research that draws important and tighter connections between epistemology (especially social epistemology) and political philosophy. For example, new work has been published on propaganda, fake news, belief polarization, political disagreement, conspiracy theories, the epistemic merits of democracy, voter ignorance, irrationality in politics, distrust, and the epistemic harms of echo chambers. Political epistemology is now a flourishing area of philosophy.
Key works Plato & Jowett 1991 and Aristotle & Keyt 1998 were not friends of democracy for largely epistemic reasons: they thought ordinary citizens are too uninformed to govern themselves well. Mill 2008 was more optimistic about citizens in liberal democracies; but he, too, worries about citizen incompetence and thus proposed that more knowledgeable citizens should have extra votes. Somin 2010 agrees with Plato (and others) that voters may be ignorant, but he claims that voter ignorance is rational because the cost to be adequately informed is too high for most people. Dewey 1927 reject’s Plato’s “rule by experts” in favor of a pragmatist view of public deliberation, which many scholars regard as a precursor to modern “deliberative democracy” (discussed below). As a pragmatist, however, Dewey set aside the search for unchanging and timeless moral truths. Anderson 2006 provides an early articulation of an “epistemic” conception of democracy. This seminal article continues to inform work on epistemic democracy, such as Estlund 2008 attempt to give the notion of truth a central role in democracy -- but without risking the elitism of Plato and, to a lesser extent, Mill. In contrast to the epistemic democrats, Rawls 1993 famously takes the stance of “epistemic abstinence,” rejecting the relevance of truth for justifying certain principles of justice. Gaus 1996 raises a number of criticisms against Rawls and attempts to defend political liberalism partly on epistemic terms. Lynch 2012 provides lively defense of reason, giving reasons, and pursuing rational debate against passion, prejudice, manipulation, coercion, and skepticism about the role of reason in judgment. Talisse 2009 gives a concise defense of democracy by appealing to “folk epistemology”. The main claim is that only in a democracy can an individual practice proper epistemic agency. Peter 2008 analyzes the requirements for democratic legitimacy, breaking down aggregative, deliberative, and Rawlsian approaches. This book defends a view called “pure epistemic proceduralism”. Landemore 2012 is a landmark work in the study of collective intelligence and democratic theory. Landemore says that democracies are not just fairer than non-democratic alternatives, they are also “smarter” because they produce better outcomes. Brennan 2016 is an attack on democracy and defense of epistocracy. Brennan argues that voter incompetence has dire consequences, so we should consider replacing universal suffrage with “the rule of the knowledgeable.”
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228 found
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  1. Risk-Limited Indulgent Permissivism.Guy Axtell - manuscript
    This paper argues for a view described as risk-limited indulgent permissivism. This term may be new to the epistemology of disagreement literature, but the general position denoted has many examples. The paper argues for the need for an epistemology for domains of controversial views (morals, philosophy, politics, and religion), and for the advantages of endorsing a risk-limited indulgent permissivism across these domains. It takes a double-edge approach in articulating for the advantages of interpersonal belief permissivism that is yet risk-limited: Advantages (...)
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  2. The Challenges of Thick Diversity, Polarization, Debiasing, and Tokenization for Cross-Group Teaching: Some Critical Notes.Rima Basu - manuscript
    The powerful role that teachers can play in our development is the focus Binyamin, Jayusi, and Tamir’s chapter in this volume. They argue that teachers, in particular teachers that don’t share the same background as their students, can help counter the increasing polarization that characterizes our current era. In these critical notes I raise three challenges to their proposal. First, by exploring the mechanisms of polarization I demonstrate that polarization is not a problem unique to thick diversity or thick multiculturalism. (...)
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  3. The Politics of Post-Truth.Michael Hannon - manuscript
    Are Western democracies undergoing a profound epistemological shift? Are we facing a deep-seated crisis of truth? This paper critically evaluates the post-truth narrative and its implicit normative ideas. First, I examine several interpretations of ‘post-truth’ and explain why each of them faces certain challenges. Second, I argue that post-truth rhetoric is deeply normative and questionable on epistemic, moral, and political grounds. Third, I situate the contemporary post-truth narrative within a wider political framework. I conclude that post-truth rhetoric is highly problematic (...)
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  4. A puzzle of epistemic paternalism.Rory Aird - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-20.
    Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, conspiracy theories, misinformation, and fake news about the virus have abounded, drastically affecting global health measures to oppose it. In response, different strategies have been proposed to combat such Covid-19 collective irrationalities. One suggested approach has been that of epistemic paternalism – non-consultative interference in agents’ inquiries for their epistemic improvement. While extant literature on epistemic paternalism has mainly discussed whether it is (ever) justified, in this paper, I primarily focus (...)
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  5. Experts, Public Policy and the Question of Trust.Maria Baghramian & Michel Croce - forthcoming - In Michael Hannon & Jeroen De Ridder (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. London, UK: Routledge.
    This chapter discusses the topics of trust and expertise from the perspective of political epistemology. In particular, it addresses four main questions: (§1) How should we characterise experts and their expertise? (§2) How can non-experts recognize a reliable expert? (§3) What does it take for non-experts to trust experts? (§4) What problems impede trust in experts?
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  6. The Intransparency of Political Legitimacy.Matthias Brinkmann - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    Some moral value is transparent just in case an agent with average mental capacities can feasibly come to know whether some entity does, or does not, possess that value. In this paper, I consider whether legitimacy—that is, the property of exercises of political power to be permissible—is transparent. Implicit in much theorising about legitimacy is the idea that it is. I will offer two counter-arguments. First, injustice can defeat legitimacy, and injustice can be intransparent. Second, legitimacy can play a critical (...)
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  7. Procreative Justice Reconceived.Emmalon Davis - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association (First View):1-23.
    This paper reconsiders Tommie Shelby's (2016) analysis of procreation in poor black communities. I identify three conceptual frames within which Shelby situates his analysis—feminization, choice-as-control, and moralization. I argue that these frames should be rejected on conceptual, empirical, and moral grounds. As I show, this framing engenders a flawed understanding of poor black women's procreative lives. I propose an alternative framework for reconceiving the relationship between poverty and procreative justice, one oriented around reproductive flourishing instead of reproductive responsibility. More generally, (...)
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  8. On deniability.Alexander Dinges & Julia Zakkou - forthcoming - Mind.
    Communication can be risky. Like other kinds of actions, it comes with potential costs. For instance, an utterance can be embarrassing, offensive, or downright illegal. In the face of such risks, speakers tend to act strategically and seek `plausible deniability'. In this paper, we propose an account of the notion of deniability at issue. On our account, deniability is an epistemic phenomenon. A speaker has deniability if she can make it epistemically irrational for her audience to reason in certain ways. (...)
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  9. Rational Polarization.Kevin Dorst - forthcoming - The Philosophical Review.
    Predictable polarization is everywhere: we can often predict how people’s opinions—including our own—will shift over time. Extant theories either neglect the fact that we can predict our own polarization, or explain it through irrational mechanisms. They needn’t. Empirical studies suggest that polarization is predictable when evidence is ambiguous, i.e. when the rational response is not obvious. I show how Bayesians should model such ambiguity, and then prove that—assuming rational updates are those which obey the value of evidence (Blackwell 1953; Good (...)
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  10. Artistic Exceptionalism and the Risks of Activist Art.Christopher Earley - forthcoming - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
    Activist artists have to navigate a difficult tension. On the one hand, they pursue the political value of making measurable, positive impacts upon issues of social injustice. On the other hand, they pursue the artistic value that comes from strategies exempt themselves from the norms that govern conduct in other domains of life – what I will call ‘artistic exceptionalism’. Looking closely at Adrian Piper’s Four Intruders plus Alarm Systems (1980) I will show how this tension can negatively impact activist (...)
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  11. Political Disagreement: Epistemic or Civic Peers?Elizabeth Edenberg - forthcoming - In Michael Hannon & Jeroen De Ridder (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology.
    This chapter brings together debates in political philosophy and epistemology over what we should do when we disagree. While it might be tempting to think that we can apply one debate to the other, there are significant differences that may threaten this project. The specification of who qualifies as a civic or epistemic peer are not coextensive, utilizing different idealizations in denoting peerhood. In addition, the scope of disagreements that are relevant vary according to whether the methodology chosen falls within (...)
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  12. Can We Talk It Out?Miguel Egler - forthcoming - Episteme:1-19.
    Research on the normative ideal of democracy has taken a sharp deliberative and epistemic turn. It is now increasingly common for claims about the putative cognitive benefits of political deliberation to play central roles in normative arguments for democracy. In this paper, I argue that the most prominent epistemic defences of deliberative democracy fail. Relying on empirical findings on the workings of implicit bias, I show that they overstate the epistemic virtues of political deliberation. I also argue that findings in (...)
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  13. Identifying Upward: Political Epistemology in an Early Chinese Political Theory.Chris Fraser - forthcoming - In Jeroen de Ridder & Michael Hannon (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology.
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  14. Attunement: On the Cognitive Virtues of Attention.Georgi Gardiner - forthcoming - In Social Virtue Epistemology.
    I motivate three claims: Firstly, attentional traits can be cognitive virtues and vices. Secondly, groups and collectives can possess attentional virtues and vices. Thirdly, attention has epistemic, moral, social, and political importance. An epistemology of attention is needed to better understand our social-epistemic landscape, including media, social media, search engines, political polarisation, and the aims of protest. I apply attentional normativity to undermine recent arguments for moral encroachment and to illuminate a distinctive epistemic value of occupying particular social positions. A (...)
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  15. Bullshit in Politics Pays.Adam F. Gibbons - forthcoming - Episteme.
    Politics is full of people who don’t care about the facts. Still, while not caring about the facts, they are often concerned to present themselves as caring about them. Politics, in other words, is full of bullshitters. But why? In this paper I develop an incentives-based analysis of bullshit in politics, arguing that it is often a rational response to the incentives facing different groups of agents. In a slogan: bullshit in politics pays, sometimes literally. After first outlining an account (...)
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  16. Fake News: The Case for a Purely Consumer-Oriented Explication.Thomas Grundmann - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Our current understanding of ‘fake news’ is not in good shape. On the one hand, this category seems to be urgently needed for an adequate understanding of the epistemology in the age of the internet. On the other hand, the term has an unstable ordinary meaning and the prevalent accounts which all relate fake news to epistemically bad attitudes of the producer lack theoretical unity, sufficient extensional adequacy, and epistemic fruitfulness. I will therefore suggest an alternative account of fake news (...)
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  17. Is There a Duty to Speak Your Mind?Michael Hannon - forthcoming - Social Epistemology:1-16.
    In his recent book, Joshi (2021) argues that the open exchange of ideas is essential for the flourishing of individuals and society. He provides two arguments for this claim. First, speaking your mind is essential for the common good: we enhance our collective ability to reach the truth if we share evidence and offer different perspectives. Second, speaking your mind is good for your own sake: it is necessary to develop your rational faculties and exercise intellectual independence, both of which (...)
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  18. Public Discourse and Its Problems.Michael Hannon - forthcoming - Politics, Philosophy, and Economics:1470594X2211005.
    It is widely believed that open and public speech is at the heart of the democratic ideal. Public discourse is instrumentally epistemically valuable for identifying good policies, as well as necessary for resisting domination (e.g., by vocally challenging decision-makers, demanding public justifications, and using democratic speech to hold leaders accountable). But in our highly polarized and socially fragmented political environment, an increasingly pressing question is: do actual democratic societies live up to the ideal of inclusive public speech? In this essay, (...)
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  19. A Guide to Political Epistemology.Michael Hannon & Elizabeth Edenberg - forthcoming - In Jennifer Lackey & Aidan McGlynn (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology.
    Political epistemology is a newly flourishing area of philosophy, but there is no comprehensive overview to this burgeoning field. This chapter maps out the terrain of political epistemology, highlights some of the key questions and topics of this field, draws connections across seemingly disparate areas of work, and briefly situates this field within its historical and contemporary contexts.
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  20. Political Conviction, Intellectual Humility, and Quietism.Michael Hannon & Ian James Kidd - forthcoming - Journal of Positive Psychology.
    In his overview of recent work on intellectual humility, Nathan Ballantyne (2021) highlights some of the potential ‘dark sides’ of intellectual humility (IH) and calls for a critical study of the ‘value-theory’ of IH. In this article, we sketch out three ways that IH may threaten political conviction. We end our response by arguing that some forms of IH include different kinds of quietism about political convictions, which do not necessarily equate with a lack of conviction.
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  21. Populism, Expertise, and Intellectual Autonomy.Allan Hazlett - forthcoming - In M. Berhow, G. Petersen & G. Tsakiridis (eds.), Engaging Populism: Democracy and the Intellectual Virtues. Palgrave.
    Populism, as I shall understand the term here, is a style of political rhetoric that posits a Manichean conflict between the people and corrupt elites. In the present decade, populism has played a particularly salient role in the politics of the United States and Europe. Moreover, populism is commonly associated with a kind of skepticism about expertise, on which the opinions of non- experts are to be preferred to any expert consensus. In light of all this, populist expertise skepticism appears (...)
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  22. Institutional Cynicism and Civic Virtue.Ian James Kidd - forthcoming - In Quassim Cassam & Hana Samaržija (eds.), The Epistemology of Democracy. New York: Routledge.
    Scholars are divided on the relationship between cynicism and political life. In this chapter, I describe and endorse what I call 'institutional cynicism' and suggest it can feature within kinds of virtuous civic stances in democratic societies. I accept that some forms of cynicism can be as destructive and as anti-democratic as critics insist. Institutional cynicism, of the sort I describe, can actually make us better citizens. It turns our attention towards sub-optimal aspects of the political institutions of democratic societies, (...)
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  23. The Purpose and Limits of Electoral Accountability.Finlay Malcolm - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    The standard theory of electoral accountability treats the electorate as an appraiser of government performance on a range of complex issues, who re-elect or de-elect depending on their evaluation of that performance. This paper draws from studies on voter knowledge and behaviour to present a dilemma for the standard theory: either voters do not know how well their rulers have performed, or if they do, they do not base their votes on that knowledge. It is shown that, on either horn (...)
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  24. Non-Ideal Epistemology.Robin McKenna - forthcoming - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Epistemologists often work with idealized pictures of what inquirers are like, how they interact with each other, and the social institutions and environment in which they do the interacting. These idealizations might be appropriate for the more foundational issues in epistemology, such as the theory of knowledge. However they become problematic when epistemologists address applied and practical topics, such as public ignorance about important political and scientific issues, or our obligations and responsibilities as inquirers. A solution to a problem like (...)
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  25. Non-Ideal Epistemology.Robin McKenna - forthcoming - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Epistemologists often work with idealized pictures of what inquirers are like, how they interact with each other, and the social institutions and environment in which they do the interacting. These idealizations might be appropriate for the more foundational issues in epistemology, such as the theory of knowledge. However they become problematic when epistemologists address applied and practical topics, such as public ignorance about important political and scientific issues, or our obligations and responsibilities as inquirers. A solution to a problem like (...)
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  26. Persuasion and Intellectual Autonomy.Robin McKenna - forthcoming - In Kirk Lougheed & Jonathan Matheson (eds.), Epistemic Autonomy. Routledge.
    In her paper “Democracy, Public Policy, and Lay Assessments of Scientific Testimony” Elizabeth Anderson (2011) identifies a tension between the requirements of responsible public policy making and democratic legitimacy. The tension, put briefly, is that responsible public policy making should be based on the best available scientific research, but for it to be democratically legitimate there must also be broad public acceptance of whatever policies are put in place. In this chapter I discuss this tension, with a strong focus on (...)
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  27. Asymmetrical Rationality: Are Only Other People Stupid?Robin McKenna - forthcoming - In Michael Hannon & Jeroen De Ridder (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. Routledge.
    It is commonly observed that we live in an increasingly polarised world. Strikingly, we are polarised not only about political issues, but also about scientific issues that have political implications, such as climate change. This raises two questions. First, why are we so polarised over these issues? Second, does this mean our views about these issues are all equally ir/rational? In this chapter I explore both questions. Specifically, I draw on the literature on ideologically motivated reasoning to develop an answer (...)
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  28. A Hard Case for the Ethics of Supported Voting: Cognitive and Communicative Disabilities, and Incommunicability.Attila Mráz - forthcoming - Contemporary Political Theory:1-22.
    (OPEN ACCESS) In this article, I explore the implications of three moral grounds for the justification of supported voting – respect as opacity, respect as equal status, and respect as political care. For each ground, I ask whether it justifies surrogate voting for voters unable to either communicate or give effect to their electoral judgments, due to some cognitive or communicative disability. (Henceforth: incommunicability cases.) I argue that respect as opacity does not permit surrogate voting, and equal status does not (...)
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  29. A Bayesian Solution to Hallsson's Puzzle.Thomas Mulligan - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-14.
    Politics is rife with motivated cognition. People do not dispassionately engage with the evidence when they form political beliefs; they interpret it selectively, generating justifications for their desired conclusions and reasons why contrary evidence should be ignored. Moreover, research shows that epistemic ability (e.g. intelligence and familiarity with evidence) is correlated with motivated cognition. Bjørn Hallsson has pointed out that this raises a puzzle for the epistemology of disagreement. On the one hand, we typically think that epistemic ability in an (...)
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  30. Optimizing Political Influence: A Jury Theorem with Dynamic Competence and Dependence.Thomas Mulligan - forthcoming - Social Choice and Welfare.
    The purpose of this paper is to illustrate, formally, an ambiguity in the exercise of political influence. To wit: A voter might exert influence with an eye toward maximizing the probability that the political system (1) obtains the correct (e.g. just) outcome, or (2) obtains the outcome that he judges to be correct (just). And these are two very different things. A variant of Condorcet's Jury Theorem which incorporates the effect of influence on group competence and interdependence is developed. Analytic (...)
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  31. Why we should keep talking about fake news.Jessica Pepp, Eliot Michaelson & Rachel Sterken - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (4):471-487.
    In response to Habgood-Coote (2019) and a growing number of scholars who argue that academics and journalists should stop talking about fake news and abandon the term, we argue that the reasons which have been offered for eschewing the term 'fake news' are not sufficient to justify such abandonment. Prima facie, then, we take ourselves and others to be justified in continuing to talk about fake news.
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  32. How (Many) Descriptive Claims about Political Polarization Exacerbate Polarization.Uwe Peters - forthcoming - Journal of Social and Political Psychology.
    Recently, researchers and reporters have made a wide range of claims about the distribution, nature, and societal impact of political polarization. Here I offer reasons to believe that, even when they are correct and prima facie merely descriptive, many of these claims have the highly negative side effect of increasing political polarization. This is because of the interplay of two factors that have so far been neglected in the work on political polarization, namely that (1) people have a tendency to (...)
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  33. The Foundations of Criminal Law Epistemology.Lewis Ross - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    Legal epistemology has been an area of great philosophical growth since the turn of the century. But recently, a number of philosophers have argued the entire project is misguided, claiming that it relies on an illicit transposition of the norms of individual epistemology to the legal arena. This paper uses these objections as a foil to consider the foundations of legal epistemology, particularly as it applies to the criminal law. The aim is to clarify the fundamental commitments of legal epistemology (...)
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  34. ’Liberalism and / or Socialism?’ The Wrong Question?Scott Scheall - forthcoming - In Stéphane Guy (ed.), Liberalism and Socialism since the Nineteenth Century: Tensions, Exchanges and Convergences. London: Palgrave.
    Political questions are typically framed in normative terms, in terms of the political actions that we (or our political representatives) “ought” to take or, alternatively, in terms of the political philosophies that “should” inform our political actions. “Should we be liberals or socialists, or should we (somehow) combine liberalism and socialism?” -/- Such questions are typically posed and debates around such questions emerge with little, if any, prior consideration of a question that is, logically speaking, more fundamental: “What can we (...)
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  35. The Philosophy of Fanaticism: Epistemic, Affective, and Political Dimensions.Leo Townsend, Ruth Rebecca Tietjen, Michael Staudigl & Hans Bernard Schmid (eds.) - forthcoming - London: Routledge.
  36. Compromising with the Uncompromising: Political Disagreement under Asymmetric Compliance.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - Journal of Political Philosophy.
    It is fairly uncontroversial that when you encounter disagreement with some view of yours, you are often epistemically required to become at least somewhat less confident in that view. This includes political disagreements, where your level of confidence might in various ways affect your voting and other political behavior. But suppose that your opponents don’t comply with the epistemic norms governing disagreement – that is, they never reduce their confidence in their views in response to disagreement. If you always reduce (...)
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  37. Deference to Experts.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - In Jonathan Dancy, Ernest Sosa, Matthias Steup & Kurt Sylvan (eds.), A Companion to Epistemology (3rd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.
    Especially but not exclusively in the United States, there is a significant gulf between expert opinion and public opinion on a range of important political, social, and scientific issues. Large numbers of lay people hold views contrary to the expert consensus on topics such as climate change, vaccines, and economics. Much political commentary assumes that ordinary people should defer to experts more than they do, and this view is certainly lent force by the literally deadly effects of many denials of (...)
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  38. Counterspeech.Bianca Cepollaro, Maxime Lepoutre & Robert Mark Simpson - 2023 - Philosophy Compass 18 (1):e12890.
    Counterspeech is communication that tries to counteract potential harm brought about by other speech. Theoretical interest in counterspeech partly derives from a libertarian ideal – as captured in the claim that the solution to bad speech is more speech – and partly from a recognition that well-meaning attempts to counteract harm through speech can easily misfire or backfire. Here we survey recent work on the question of what makes counterspeech effective at remedying or preventing harm, in those cases where it (...)
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  39. Genozidleugnung: Organisiertes Vergessen oder Substanzielle Erkenntnispraxis?Melanie Altanian - 2022 - Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie 9 (1):251-278.
    Die Begriffe "kollektive Amnesie" und "organisiertes Vergessen" werden oft verwendet, um Fälle zu beschreiben, in denen historisches Wissen, das im gesellschaftlichen, kollektiven Gedächtnis verfügbar sein sollte – weil es sich beispielsweise um gerechtigkeitsrelevantes Wissen handelt – aus unterschiedlichen, meist politisch problematischen Gründen nicht verfügbar ist. Beispielsweise, weil es gegebene Herrschaftsverhältnisse bedrohen würde. In diesem Beitrag soll gezeigt werden, weshalb diese Begriffe gerade in solchen Fällen irreführend sind. Insbesondere nationale Erinnerungspolitik kann oftmals aus Erkenntnispraktiken bestehen oder befördern, die nicht primär Vergessen (...)
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  40. Epistemic Oppression, Resistance, and Resurgence.Nora Berenstain, Kristie Dotson, Julieta Paredes, Elena Ruíz & Noenoe K. Silva - 2022 - Contemporary Political Theory 21 (2):283-314.
    Epistemologies have power. They have the power not only to transform worlds, but to create them. And the worlds that they create can be better or worse. For many people, the worlds they create are predictably and reliably deadly. Epistemologies can turn sacred land into ‘resources’ to be bought, sold, exploited, and exhausted. They can turn people into ‘labor’ in much the same way. They can not only disappear acts of violence but render them unnamable and unrecognizable within their conceptual (...)
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  41. Reconciling Conceptual Confusions in the Le Monde Debate on Conspiracy Theories, J.C.M. Duetz and M R. X. Dentith.Julia Duetz & M. R. X. Dentith - 2022 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 10 (11):40-50.
    This reply to an ongoing debate between conspiracy theory researchers from different disciplines exposes the conceptual confusions that underlie some of the disagreements in conspiracy theory research. Reconciling these conceptual confusions is important because conspiracy theories are a multidisciplinary topic and a profound understanding of them requires integrative insights from different fields. Specifically, we distinguish research focussing on conspiracy *theories* (and theorizing) from research of conspiracy *belief* (and mindset, theorists) and explain how particularism with regards to conspiracy theories does not (...)
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  42. Fake News and Epistemic Vice: Combating a Uniquely Noxious Market.Megan Fritts & Frank Cabrera - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association (3):1-22.
    The topic of fake news has received increased attention from philosophers since the term became a favorite of politicians (Habgood-Coote 2016; Dentith 2016). Notably missing from the conversation, however, is a discussion of fake news and conspiracy theory media as a market. This paper will take as its starting point the account of noxious markets put forward by Debra Satz (2010), and will argue that there is a pro tanto moral reason to restrict the market for fake news. Specifically, we (...)
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  43. Online Misinformation and “Phantom Patterns”: Epistemic Exploitation in the Era of Big Data.Megan Fritts & Frank Cabrera - 2022 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 60 (1):57-87.
    In this paper, we examine how the availability of massive quantities of data i.e., the “Big Data” phenomenon, contributes to the creation, spread, and harms of online misinformation. Specifically, we argue that a factor in the problem of online misinformation is the evolved human instinct to recognize patterns. While the pattern-recognition instinct is a crucial evolutionary adaptation, we argue that in the age of Big Data, these capacities have, unfortunately, rendered us vulnerable. Given the ways in which online media outlets (...)
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  44. Is Epistocracy Irrational?Adam F. Gibbons - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 21 (2).
    Proponents of epistocracy worry that high levels of voter ignorance can harm democracies. To combat such ignorance, they recommend allocating comparatively more political power to more politically knowledgeable citizens. In response, some recent critics of epistocracy contend that epistocratic institutions risk causing even more harm, since much evidence from political psychology indicates that more politically knowledgeable citizens are typically more biased, less open-minded, and more prone to motivated reasoning about political matters than their less knowledgeable counterparts. If so, perhaps epistocratic (...)
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  45. On Epistocracy's Epistemic Problem: Reply to Méndez.Adam F. Gibbons - 2022 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 11 (8):1-7.
    In a recent paper, María Pía Méndez (2022) offers an epistemic critique of epistocracy according to which the sort of politically well-informed but homogenous groups of citizens that would be empowered under epistocracy would lack reliable access to information about the preferences of less informed citizens. Specifically, they would lack access to such citizens’ preferences regarding the form that policies ought to take—that is, how these policies ought to be implemented. Arguing that this so-called Information Gap Problem militates against epistocracy, (...)
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  46. Fake news, conceptual engineering, and linguistic resistance: reply to Pepp, Michaelson and Sterken, and Brown.Joshua Habgood-Coote - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (4):488-516.
    ABSTRACT In Habgood-Coote : 1033–1065) I argued that we should abandon ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’, on the grounds that these terms do not have stable public meanings, are unnecessary, and function as vehicles for propaganda. Jessica Pepp, Eliot Michaelson, and Rachel Sterken and Étienne Brown : 144–154) have raised worries about my case for abandonment, recommending that we continue using ‘fake news’. In this paper, I respond to these worries. I distinguish more clearly between theoretical and political reasons for abandoning (...)
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  47. Are Knowledgeable Voters Better Voters?Michael Hannon - 2022 - Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 21 (1):29-54.
    It is widely believed that democracies require knowledgeable citizens to function well. But the most politically knowledgeable individuals also tend to be the most partisan, and the strength of partisan identity tends to corrupt political thinking. This creates a conundrum. On the one hand, an informed citizenry is allegedly necessary for a democracy to flourish. On the other hand, the most knowledgeable and passionate voters are also the most likely to think in corrupted, biased ways. What to do? This paper (...)
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  48. Some problems with particularism.Keith Raymond Harris - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6):1-16.
    Particularists maintain that conspiracy theories are to be assessed individually, while generalists hold that conspiracy theories may be assessed as a class. This paper seeks to clarify the nature and importance of the debate between particularism and generalism, while offering an argument for a version of generalism. I begin by considering three approaches to the definition of conspiracy theory, and offer reason to prefer an approach that defines conspiracy theories in opposition to the claims of epistemic authorities. I argue that (...)
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  49. Algorithmic Political Bias Can Reduce Political Polarization.Uwe Peters - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (3):1-7.
    Does algorithmic political bias contribute to an entrenchment and polarization of political positions? Franke argues that it may do so because the bias involves classifications of people as liberals, conservatives, etc., and individuals often conform to the ways in which they are classified. I provide a novel example of this phenomenon in human–computer interactions and introduce a social psychological mechanism that has been overlooked in this context but should be experimentally explored. Furthermore, while Franke proposes that algorithmic political classifications entrench (...)
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  50. “Indoctrination” as Propaganda.Chris Ranalli - 2022 - The Philosophers' Magazine 98:54-59.
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