Defensiveness and Identity

Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-20 (2023)
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Criticism can sometimes provoke defensive reactions, particularly when it implicates identities people hold dear. For instance, feminists told they are upholding rape culture might become angry or upset, since the criticism conflicts with an identity that is important to them. These kinds of defensive reactions are a primary focus of this paper. What is it to be defensive in this way, and why do some kinds of criticism, or implied criticism, tend to provoke this kind of response? What are the connections between defensiveness, identity, and active ignorance? What are the social, political, and epistemic consequences of the tendency to defensiveness? Are there ways to improve the situation?

Author Profiles

Jonathan Ichikawa
University of British Columbia
Audrey Yap
University of Victoria


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