Synthese 198 (12):11999-12019 (2020)

Uwe Peters
Universität Bonn
It has recently been suggested that politically motivated cognition leads progressive individuals to form beliefs that underestimate real differences between social groups and to process information selectively to support these beliefs and an egalitarian outlook. I contend that this tendency, which I shall call ‘egalitarian confirmation bias’, is often ‘Mandevillian’ in nature. That is, while it is epistemically problematic in one’s own cognition, it often has effects that significantly improve other people’s truth tracking, especially that of stigmatized individuals in academia. Due to its Mandevillian character, egalitarian confirmation bias isn’t only epistemically but also ethically beneficial, as it helps decrease social injustice. Moreover, since egalitarian confirmation bias has Mandevillian effects especially in academia, and since progressives are particularly likely to display the bias, there is an epistemic reason for maintaining the often-noted political majority of progressives in academia. That is, while many researchers hold that diversity in academia is epistemically beneficial because it helps reduce bias, I argue that precisely because political diversity would help reduce egalitarian confirmation bias, it would in fact in one important sense be epistemically costly.
Keywords confirmation bias  progressives  political diversity  Mandevillian effects
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02846-2
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References found in this work BETA

What is the Point of Equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
Knowledge in a Social World.Alvin I. Goldman - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (1):185-190.
On the Epistemic Costs of Implicit Bias.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (1):33-63.

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