Virtue, Social Knowledge, and Implicit Bias

In Jennifer Saul & Michael Brownstein (eds.), Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 1: Metaphysics and Epistemology. pp. 191-215 (2016)
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This chapter is centered around an apparent tension that research on implicit bias raises between virtue and social knowledge. Research suggests that simply knowing what the prevalent stereotypes are leads individuals to act in prejudiced ways—biasing decisions about whom to trust and whom to ignore, whom to promote and whom to imprison—even if they reflectively reject those stereotypes. Because efforts to combat discrimination obviously depend on knowledge of stereotypes, a question arises about what to do next. This chapter argues that the obstacle to virtue is not knowledge of stereotypes as such, but the “accessibility” of such knowledge to the agent who has it. “Accessibility” refers to how easily knowledge comes to mind. Social agents can acquire the requisite knowledge of stereotypes while resisting their pernicious influence, so long as that knowledge remains, in relevant contexts, relatively inaccessible

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Alex Madva
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona


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