Justified Belief in a Digital Age: On the Epistemic Implications of Secret Internet Technologies

Episteme 10 (2):117 - 134 (2013)
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Abstract
People increasingly form beliefs based on information gained from automatically filtered Internet ‎sources such as search engines. However, the workings of such sources are often opaque, preventing ‎subjects from knowing whether the information provided is biased or incomplete. Users’ reliance on ‎Internet technologies whose modes of operation are concealed from them raises serious concerns about ‎the justificatory status of the beliefs they end up forming. Yet it is unclear how to address these concerns ‎within standard theories of knowledge and justification. To shed light on the problem, we introduce a ‎novel conceptual framework that clarifies the relations between justified belief, epistemic responsibility, ‎action, and the technological resources available to a subject. We argue that justified belief is subject to ‎certain epistemic responsibilities that accompany the subject’s particular decision-taking circumstances, ‎and that one typical responsibility is to ascertain, so far as one can, whether the information upon which ‎the judgment will rest is biased or incomplete. What this responsibility comprises is partly determined by ‎the inquiry-enabling technologies available to the subject. We argue that a subject’s beliefs that are ‎formed based on Internet-filtered information are less justified than they would be if she either knew how ‎filtering worked or relied on additional sources, and that the subject may have the epistemic ‎responsibility to take measures to enhance the justificatory status of such beliefs.‎.
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2013
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MILJBI
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First archival date: 2012-12-26
Latest version: 2 (2013-05-29)
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2012-12-26

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