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Epistemic Dilemmas: A Guide

In Essays on Epistemic Dilemmas. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

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  1. Virtue, Social Knowledge, and Implicit Bias.Alex Madva - 2016 - In Michael Brownstein & Jennifer Mather Saul (eds.), Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 1: Metaphysics and Epistemology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 191-215.
    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 (...)
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  • The Fragility of Goodness.Martha C. Nussbaum - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    This book is a study of ancient views about "moral luck." It examines the fundamental ethical problem that many of the valued constituents of a well-lived life are vulnerable to factors outside a person's control, and asks how this affects our appraisal of persons and their lives. The Greeks made a profound contribution to these questions, yet neither the problems nor the Greek views of them have received the attention they deserve. This updated edition contains a new preface.
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  • Rational Reflection.David Christensen - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):121-140.
    This paper explores an initially attractive principle connecting beliefs in general with beliefs about what beliefs are rational. The principle turns out to be violated by intuitively rational beliefs in some situations. The paper lays out some options for reacting to this fact.
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  • Unreasonable Knowledge.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):1-21.
    It is common orthodoxy among internalists and externalists alike that knowledge is lost or defeated in situations involving misleading evidence of a suitable kind. But making sense of defeat has seemed to present a particular challenge for those who reject an internalist justification condition on knowledge. My main aim here is to argue that externalists ought to take seriously a view on which knowledge can be retained even in the face of strong seemingly defeating evidence. As an instructive example, I (...)
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  • On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    This is a major work in moral philosophy, the long-awaited follow-up to Parfit's 1984 classic Reasons and Persons, a landmark of twentieth-century philosophy. Parfit now presents a powerful new treatment of reasons and a critical examination of the most prominent systematic moral theories, leading to his own ground-breaking conclusion.
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  • The Normativity of Rationality.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Kiesewetter defends the normativity of rationality by presenting a new solution to the problems that arise from the common assumption that we ought to be rational. He provides a defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, an evidence-relative account of reason, and an explanation of structural irrationality in relation to these accounts.
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  • The Epistemic Duty to Seek More Evidence.Richard J. Hall & Charles R. Johnson - 1998 - American Philosophical Quarterly 35 (2):129 - 139.
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  • Fitting Things Together: Coherence and the Demands of Structural Rationality.Alexander Worsnip - 2021 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    Some combinations of attitudes--of beliefs, credences, intentions, preferences, hopes, fears, and so on--do not fit together right: they are incoherent. A natural idea is that there are requirements of "structural rationality" that forbid us from being in these incoherent states. Yet a number of surprisingly difficult challenges arise for this idea. These challenges have recently led many philosophers to attempt to minimize or eliminate structural rationality, arguing that it is just a "shadow" of "substantive rationality"--that is, correctly responding to one's (...)
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  • Experience as evidence.Chris Tucker - 2019 - In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton Littlejohn (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evidence. Routledge.
    This chapter explores whether and when experience can be evidence. It argues that experiences can be evidence, and that this claim is compatible with just about any epistemological theory. It evaluates the most promising argument for the conclusion that certain experiences (e.g., seeming to see) are always evidence for believing what the experiences represent. While the argument is very promising, one premise needs further defense. The argument also depends on a certain connection between reasonable belief and the first person perspective.
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  • Evidentialism and Moral Encroachment.Georgi Gardiner - 2018 - In McCain Kevin (ed.), Believing in Accordance with the Evidence: New Essays on Evidentialism. Cham: Springer Verlag.
    Moral encroachment holds that the epistemic justification of a belief can be affected by moral factors. If the belief might wrong a person or group more evidence is required to justify the belief. Moral encroachment thereby opposes evidentialism, and kindred views, which holds that epistemic justification is determined solely by factors pertaining to evidence and truth. In this essay I explain how beliefs such as ‘that woman is probably an administrative assistant’—based on the evidence that most women employees at the (...)
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  • The Epistemic Role of Consciousness.Declan Smithies - 2019 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    What is the role of consciousness in our mental lives? Declan Smithies argues here that consciousness is essential to explaining how we can acquire knowledge and justified belief about ourselves and the world around us. On this view, unconscious beings cannot form justified beliefs and so they cannot know anything at all. Consciousness is the ultimate basis of all knowledge and epistemic justification.
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  • Beginning in Wonder: Suspensive Attitudes and Epistemic Dilemmas.Kurt Sylvan & Errol Lord - 2021 - In Nick Hughes (ed.), Epistemic Dilemmas. Oxford University Press.
    We argue that we can avoid epistemic dilemmas by properly understanding the nature and epistemology of the suspension of judgment, with a particular focus on conflicts between higher-order evidence and first-order evidence.
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  • Embracing Incoherence.Claire Field - 2021 - In Nick Hughes (ed.), Epistemic Dilemmas. Oxford University Press. pp. 1-29.
    Incoherence is usually regarded as a bad thing. Incoherence suggests irrationality, confusion, paradox. Incoherentism disagrees: incoherence is not always a bad thing, sometimes we ought to be incoherent. If correct, Incoherentism has important and controversial implications. It implies that rationality does not always require coherence. Dilemmism and Incoherentism both embrace conflict in epistemology. After identifying some important differences between these two ways of embracing conflict, I offer some reasons to prefer Incoherentism over Dilemmism. Namely, that Incoherentism allows us to deliberate (...)
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  • Epistemic Dilemmas Defended.Nick Hughes - 2021 - In Epistemic Dilemmas. Oxford University Press.
    Daniel Greco (forthcoming) argues that there cannot be epistemic dilemmas. I argue that he is wrong. I then look in detail at a would-be epistemic dilemma and argue that no non-dilemmic approach to it can be made to work. Along the way, there is discussion of octopuses, lobsters, and other ‘inscrutable cognizers’; the relationship between evaluative and prescriptive norms; a failed attempt to steal a Brueghel; epistemic and moral blame and residue; an unbearable guy who thinks he’s God’s gift to (...)
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  • Evidence-Coherence Conflicts Revisited.Alex Worsnip - 2021 - In Nick Hughes (ed.), Epistemic Dilemmas. Oxford University Press.
    There are at least two different aspects of our rational evaluation of agents’ doxastic attitudes. First, we evaluate these attitudes according to whether they are supported by one’s evidence (substantive rationality). Second, we evaluate these attitudes according to how well they cohere with one another (structural rationality). In previous work, I’ve argued that substantive and structural rationality really are distinct, sui generis, kinds of rationality – call this view ‘dualism’, as opposed to ‘monism’, about rationality – by arguing that the (...)
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  • A Plea for Epistemic Excuses.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - In Julien Dutant Fabian Dorsch (ed.), The New Evil Demon Problem. Oxford University Press.
    The typical epistemology course begins with a discussion of the distinction between justification and knowledge and ends without any discussion of the distinction between justification and excuse. This is unfortunate. If we had a better understanding of the justification-excuse distinction, we would have a better understanding of the intuitions that shape the internalism-externalism debate. My aims in this paper are these. First, I will explain how the kinds of excuses that should interest epistemologists exculpate. Second, I will explain why the (...)
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  • Existentialism and Humanism.Jean-Paul Sartre - 1948 - Brooklyn: Haskell House. Edited by Philip Mairet.
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  • Normative Externalism.Brian Weatherson - 2019 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Normative Externalism argues that it is not important that people live up to their own principles. What matters, in both ethics and epistemology, is that they live up to the correct principles: that they do the right thing, and that they believe rationally. This stance, that what matters are the correct principles, not one's own principles, has implications across ethics and epistemology. In ethics, it undermines the ideas that moral uncertainty should be treated just like factual uncertainty, that moral ignorance (...)
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  • Internalism Explained.Ralph Wedgwood - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (2):349-369.
    According to epistemological internalism, the rationality of a belief supervenes purely on "internal facts" about the thinker's mind. But what are "internal facts"? Why does the rationality of a belief supervene on them? The standard answers are unacceptable. This paper proposes new answers. "Internal facts" are facts about the thinker's nonfactive mental states. The rationality of a belief supervenes on such internal facts because we need rules of belief revision that we can follow directly, not by means of following any (...)
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  • The Value of Rationality.Ralph Wedgwood - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Ralph Wedgwood gives a general account of what it is for states of mind and processes of thought to count as rational. Whether you are thinking rationally depends purely on what is going on in your mind, but rational thinking is a means to the goal of getting things right in your thinking, by believing the truth or making good choices.
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  • The Conflict of Evidence and Coherence.Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (1):3-44.
    For many epistemologists, and for many philosophers more broadly, it is axiomatic that rationality requires you to take the doxastic attitudes that your evidence supports. Yet there is also another current in our talk about rationality. On this usage, rationality is a matter of the right kind of coherence between one's mental attitudes. Surprisingly little work in epistemology is explicitly devoted to answering the question of how these two currents of talk are related. But many implicitly assume that evidence -responsiveness (...)
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  • Very Improbable Knowing.Timothy Williamson - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (5):971-999.
    Improbable knowing is knowing something even though it is almost certain on one’s evidence at the time that one does not know that thing. Once probabilities on the agent’s evidence are introduced into epistemic logic in a very natural way, it is easy to construct models of improbable knowing, some of which have realistic interpretations, for instance concerning agents like us with limited powers of perceptual discrimination. Improbable knowing is an extreme case of failure of the KK principle, that is, (...)
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  • Ethical Consistency.B. A. O. Williams & W. F. Atkinson - 1965 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 39 (1):103-138.
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  • The Value of Rationality. [REVIEW]Ralph Wedgwood - 2019 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 73 (1):153-157.
    This is a review, by Sebastian Schmidt, of Ralph Wedgwood's The Value of Rationality (Oxford University Press, 2017).
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  • Justified Inference.Ralph Wedgwood - 2012 - Synthese 189 (2):273-295.
    What is the connection between justification and the kind of consequence relations that are studied by logic? In this essay, I shall try to provide an answer, by proposing a general conception of the kind of inference that counts as justified or rational.
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  • Two Arguments for Evidentialism.Jonathan Way - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):805-818.
    Evidentialism is the thesis that all reasons to believe p are evidence for p. Pragmatists hold that pragmatic considerations – incentives for believing – can also be reasons to believe. Nishi Shah, Thomas Kelly and others have argued for evidentialism on the grounds that incentives for belief fail a ‘reasoning constraint’ on reasons: roughly, reasons must be considerations we can reason from, but we cannot reason from incentives to belief. In the first half of the paper, I show that this (...)
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  • A Puzzle about withholding.John Turri - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):355-364.
    This paper presents a puzzle about justification and withholding. The puzzle arises in a special case where experts advise us to not withhold judgment. My main thesis is simply that the puzzle is genuinely a puzzle, and so leads us to rethink some common assumptions in epistemology, specifically assumptions about the nature of justification and doxastic attitudes. Section 1 introduces the common assumptions. Section 2 presents the puzzle case. Section 3 assesses the puzzle case. Section 4 explains the choice we're (...)
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  • Rationality’s Fixed Point.Michael G. Titelbaum - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 5.
    This article defends the Fixed Point Thesis: that it is always a rational mistake to have false beliefs about the requirements of rationality. The Fixed Point Thesis is inspired by logical omniscience requirements in formal epistemology. It argues to the Fixed Point Thesis from the Akratic Principle: that rationality forbids having an attitude while believing that attitude is rationally forbidden. It then draws out surprising consequences of the Fixed Point Thesis, for instance that certain kinds of a priori justification are (...)
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  • Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    Jason Stanley presents a startling and provocative claim about knowledge: that whether or not someone knows a proposition at a given time is in part determined by his or her practical interests, i.e. by how much is at stake for that person at that time. In defending this thesis, Stanley introduces readers to a number of strategies for resolving philosophical paradox, making the book essential not just for specialists in epistemology but for all philosophers interested in philosophical methodology. Since a (...)
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  • Anti-expertise, instability, and rational choice.Roy Sorensen - 1987 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65 (3):301 – 315.
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  • The epistemic role of consciousness.Declan Smithies - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (3):778-780.
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  • Ideal rationality and logical omniscience.Declan Smithies - 2015 - Synthese 192 (9):2769-2793.
    Does rationality require logical omniscience? Our best formal theories of rationality imply that it does, but our ordinary evaluations of rationality seem to suggest otherwise. This paper aims to resolve the tension by arguing that our ordinary evaluations of rationality are not only consistent with the thesis that rationality requires logical omniscience, but also provide a compelling rationale for accepting this thesis in the first place. This paper also defends an account of apriori justification for logical beliefs that is designed (...)
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  • Higher-Order Defeat Without Epistemic Dilemmas.Mattias Skipper - 2018 - Logos and Episteme 9 (4):451-465.
    Many epistemologists have endorsed a version of the view that rational belief is sensitive to higher-order defeat. That is to say, even a fully rational belief state can be defeated by misleading higher-order evidence, which indicates that the belief state is irrational. In a recent paper, however, Maria Lasonen-Aarnio calls this view into doubt. Her argument proceeds in two stages. First, she argues that higher-order defeat calls for a two-tiered theory of epistemic rationality. Secondly, she argues that there seems to (...)
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  • Norms of Belief.Mona Simion, Christoph Kelp & Harmen Ghijsen - 2016 - Philosophical Issues 26 (1):374-392.
    When in the business of offering an account of the epistemic normativity of belief, one is faced with the following dilemma: strongly externalist norms fail to account for the intuition of justification in radical deception scenarios, while milder norms are incapable to explain what is epistemically wrong with false beliefs. This paper has two main aims; we first look at one way out of the dilemma, defended by Timothy Williamson and Clayton Littlejohn, and argue that it fails. Second, we identify (...)
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  • How Doxastic Justification Helps Us Solve the Puzzle of Misleading Higher-Order Evidence.Paul Silva - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):308-328.
    Certain plausible evidential requirements and coherence requirements on rationality seem to yield dilemmas of rationality (in a specific, objectionable sense) when put together with the possibility of misleading higher-order evidence. Epistemologists have often taken such dilemmas to be evidence that we’re working with some false principle. In what follows I show how one can jointly endorse an evidential requirement, a coherence requirement, and the possibility of misleading higher-order evidence without running afoul of dilemmas of rationality. The trick lies in observing (...)
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  • An Accuracy Based Approach to Higher Order Evidence.Miriam Schoenfield - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):690-715.
    The aim of this paper is to apply the accuracy based approach to epistemology to the case of higher order evidence: evidence that bears on the rationality of one's beliefs. I proceed in two stages. First, I show that the accuracy based framework that is standardly used to motivate rational requirements supports steadfastness—a position according to which higher order evidence should have no impact on one's doxastic attitudes towards first order propositions. The argument for this will require a generalization of (...)
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  • Sleeping Beauty, Countable Additivity, and Rational Dilemmas.Jacob Ross - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (4):411-447.
    Currently, the most popular views about how to update de se or self-locating beliefs entail the one-third solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem.2 Another widely held view is that an agent‘s credences should be countably additive.3 In what follows, I will argue that there is a deep tension between these two positions. For the assumptions that underlie the one-third solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem entail a more general principle, which I call the Generalized Thirder Principle, and there are situations (...)
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  • A New Anti-Expertise Dilemma.Thomas Raleigh - 2021 - Synthese (3-4):1-19.
    Instability occurs when the very fact of choosing one particular possible option rather than another affects the expected values of those possible options. In decision theory: An act is stable iff given that it is actually performed, its expected utility is maximal. When there is no stable choice available, the resulting instability can seem to pose a dilemma of practical rationality. A structurally very similar kind of instability, which occurs in cases of anti-expertise, can likewise seem to create dilemmas of (...)
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  • The Merits of Incoherence.James Pryor - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (1):112-141.
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  • Epistemic norms.John L. Pollock - 1987 - Synthese 71 (1):61 - 95.
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  • Resolving epistemic dilemmas.Douglas Odegard - 1993 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 (2):161 – 168.
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  • We Have No Positive Epistemic Duties.Mark T. Nelson - 2010 - Mind 119 (473):83-102.
    In ethics, it is commonly supposed that we have both positive duties and negative duties, things we ought to do and things we ought not to do. Given the many parallels between ethics and epistemology, we might suppose that the same is true in epistemology, and that we have both positive epistemic duties and negative epistemic duties. I argue that this is false; that is, that we have negative epistemic duties, but no positive ones. There are things that we ought (...)
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  • The lottery paradox, knowledge, and rationality.Dana K. Nelkin - 2000 - Philosophical Review 109 (3):373-409.
    Jim buys a ticket in a million-ticket lottery. He knows it is a fair lottery, but, given the odds, he believes he will lose. When the winning ticket is chosen, it is not his. Did he know his ticket would lose? It seems that he did not. After all, if he knew his ticket would lose, why would he have bought it? Further, if he knew his ticket would lose, then, given that his ticket is no different in its chances (...)
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  • What are the cognitive costs of racism? A reply to Gendler.Joshua Mugg - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (2):217-229.
    Tamar Gendler argues that, for those living in a society in which race is a salient sociological feature, it is impossible to be fully rational: members of such a society must either fail to encode relevant information containing race, or suffer epistemic costs by being implicitly racist. However, I argue that, although Gendler calls attention to a pitfall worthy of study, she fails to conclusively demonstrate that there are epistemic (or cognitive) costs of being racist. Gendler offers three supporting phenomena. (...)
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  • Moral dilemmas and consistency.Ruth Barcan Marcus - 1980 - Journal of Philosophy 77 (3):121-136.
    Marcus argues that moral dilemmas are real, but that they are not the result of inconsistent moral principles. Moral principles are consistent just in case there is some world where all principles are 'obeyable.' They are inconsistent just in case there is no world where all are 'obeyable.' What this logical point is meant to show is that moral dilemmas do not make moral codes inconsistent. She also discusses guilt, and argues that guilt is still appropriate even in cases of (...)
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  • The Russellian Retreat.Clayton Littlejohn - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (3pt3):293-320.
    Belief does aim at the truth. When our beliefs do not fit the facts, they cannot do what they are supposed to do, because they cannot provide us with reasons. We cannot plausibly deny that a truth norm is among the norms that govern belief. What we should not say is that the truth norm is the fundamental epistemic norm. In this paper, I shall argue that knowledge is the norm of belief and that the truth norm has a derivative (...)
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  • Epistemic dilemmas and rational indeterminacy.Nick Leonard - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):573-596.
    This paper is about epistemic dilemmas, i.e., cases in which one is doomed to have a doxastic attitude that is rationally impermissible no matter what. My aim is to develop and defend a position according to which there can be genuine rational indeterminacy; that is, it can be indeterminate which principles of rationality one should satisfy and thus indeterminate which doxastic attitudes one is permitted or required to have. I am going to argue that this view can resolve epistemic dilemmas (...)
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  • Belief and rational indeterminacy.Nick Leonard - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13523-13542.
    This paper is about an anti-expertise paradox that arises because of self-referential sentences like: = I do not believe that is true. The first aim is to motivate, develop, and defend a novel view of epistemic rationality according to which there can be genuine rational indeterminacy, i.e., it can be indeterminate which doxastic states an agent is rationally permitted or required to have. The second aim is to show how this view can provide a solution to this paradox while also (...)
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  • Higher‐Order Evidence and the Limits of Defeat.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):314-345.
    Recent authors have drawn attention to a new kind of defeating evidence commonly referred to as higher-order evidence. Such evidence works by inducing doubts that one’s doxastic state is the result of a flawed process – for instance, a process brought about by a reason-distorting drug. I argue that accommodating defeat by higher-order evidence requires a two-tiered theory of justification, and that the phenomenon gives rise to a puzzle. The puzzle is that at least in some situations involving higher-order defeaters (...)
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  • Implicit racial bias and epistemic pessimism.Charles Lassiter & Nathan Ballantyne - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (1-2):79-101.
    Implicit bias results from living in a society structured by race. Tamar Gendler has drawn attention to several epistemic costs of implicit bias and concludes that paying some costs is unavoidable. In this paper, we reconstruct Gendler’s argument and argue that the epistemic costs she highlights can be avoided. Though epistemic agents encode discriminatory information from the environment, not all encoded information is activated. Agents can construct local epistemic environments that do not activate biasing representations, effectively avoiding the consequences of (...)
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