An argument for egalitarian confirmation bias and against political diversity in academia

Synthese:1-21 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
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.
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Archival date: 2020-09-07
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2020-09-05

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