Alison Bailey (Illinois State University) ‘On Anger, Silence, and Epistemic Injustice‘ Anger is the emotion of injustice. Historically, discussions of anger and injustice have focused on the political uses of anger; but, as Kristie Dotson remarks “All injustices are epistemic at root.” So, I’m curious: if anger is the emotion of injustice, and if all injustices are epistemic at root, then where is the anger in epistemic injustice? Despite the question, my project is not to account for the lack of attention to anger in the epistemic injustice scholarship. Instead, I want to focus on the anger that saturates the complex silences that epistemic injustices repeatedly manufacture. I begin with an account of how the social practices of silencing produce angry experiences during unjust epistemic exchanges. I use ‘tone policing’ to illustrate the intimate relationship between silencing and anger management, and suggest that in managing anger we also manage the knowledge present in resistant anger. In closing, I sketch some of the reasons why knowing resistant anger is a powerful source for resisting epistemic injustice.
Olivia Bailey (Harvard University) ‘Empathy and Testimonial Trust’ Empathy, the activity of emotionally-charged imaginative perspective taking, bears a complex and surprisingly problematic relation to testimonial trust. I explore this relation in the context of would-be allies’ empathy with and trust in the testimony of members of oppressed groups. Empathy and testimonial trust are not simply at odds; the former can provide a critically important support for the latter. But the very features that make empathy look like a powerful tool for bridging differences and building solidarity also make it the case that reliance on empathy is liable to undermine a particularly needful and morally important form of testimonial trust. An examination of this tension will help to clarify what an epistemically responsible and morally sound approach to the project of imaginatively engaging with others’ circumstances should look like.
Heather Battaly (California State University, Fullerton) ‘Closed-mindedness and Intellectual Vice’ What is closed-mindedness? Closed-mindedness is an unwillingness or inability to engage seriously with intellectual options. Consider a person (Donald) who believes that (e.g.) there was no Native American genocide, and who refuses to engage with alternatives to this belief—he ignores any ideas, suggestions, or evidence to the contrary. Ignoring relevant alternatives to a belief is one paradigmatic way to be closed-minded. But, it isn’t the only way. There are five features of this case which are not necessary for closedmindedness. (1) Closed-mindedness does not require having already made up one’s mind. (2) The locus of closed-mindedness need not be ideas or evidence. One can be closed-minded with respect to other sorts of intellectual options: e.g., which sources one consults, which methods one uses, and which questions one asks. (3) Closed-mindedness does not require ignoring intellectual options. One can be closed-minded by failing to notice intellectual options when confronted with them, or failing to search for or generate intellectual options. (4) Closed-mindedness does not require a failure to engage with intellectual options. One can engage with intellectual options closed-mindedly—by unilaterally dismissing them or raising implausible doubts about them. Finally, (5) it does not require an unwillingness to engage seriously with intellectual options. One might be willing, but unable, to engage with intellectual options, and be closed-minded on those grounds. Now, Donald (above) does have a particular and familiar species of closed-mindedness: he is dogmatic. Dogmatism is an unwillingness to engage seriously with alternatives to the beliefs one already holds. Closed-mindedness is broader than dogmatism.
Havi Carel (University of Bristol) and Ian James Kidd (University of Nottingham) 'Illness, Healthcare, and Epistemic Injustice' Our talk analyses epistemic injustice within contemporary healthcare. We begin by detailing the persistent complaints patients make about their testimonial frustration and hermeneutical marginalization, and the negative impact this has on their care. We detail testimonial and hermeneutical injustice in healthcare, and identify the negative stereotypes and structural features of modern healthcare practices that generate them. We claim that these stereotypes and structural features render ill persons especially vulnerable to these two types of epistemic injustice. We then ask whether healthcare structures can be epistemically unjust, as well as healthcare practitioners.
Quassim Cassam (University of Warwick) ‘The Epistemology of Counterterrorism’ The UK's counterterrorism strategy is predicated on a contagion model of radicalization. According to this model some individuals are 'vulnerable' to radicalization and turn to violence when they come into contact with extremist ideas. The empirical and conceptual limitations of this model have been widely noted in the academic literature on terrorism but plausible alternatives are hard to find. Social structural explanations of terrorism avoid the pitfalls of the contagion model but have other limitations. I'll be developing an alternative theory of radicalization, drawing on Marc Sageman's work on terrorist networks and philosophical thinking about identity and 'thick relations'. Following Jaspers, I'll distinguish between explaining and understanding an outcome, and I will explore the significance of this distinction for the epistemology of counterterrorism. I'll end with some reflections on what has recently been described as the 'epistemological crisis of counterterrorism' and the serious harms caused by simplistic thinking about terrorism.
Miranda Fricker (CUNY Graduate Center/ University of Sheffield) ‘Blaming, Forgiving, and Moral-Epistemic Control’ Some of our practices of blaming each other, and of forgiving each other too, involve the exercise of causally social constructive powers. That is to say they instantiate the kind of social construction whereby someone is treated as if they have a feature F, and is thereby caused over time to have feature F. I shall argue that certain common kinds of blaming and forgiving involve treating the wrongdoer as if s/he had a certain set of moral attitudes, thereby tending to cause them to come to have those attitudes. Indeed I shall present this as the broad moral-epistemic telos of these practices. But once we understand the interpersonal mechanisms involved, we also see something else: we see how these practices contain the seeds of their own deterioration into various forms of bad faith.
Heidi Grasswick (Middlebury College) ‘Understanding Epistemic Trust Injustices and Their Harms’ Much of the literature concerning epistemic injustice has focused on the variety of harms done to socially marginalized persons in their capacities as potential contributors to knowledge projects. But the many ways in which one’s ability to participate in the generation of knowledge can be unjustly thwarted do not exhaust the epistemic injustices that marginalized inquirers can suffer. I argue instead that if we are to understand the full implications of the social nature of knowing, we must confront another dimension of the knowing enterprise: the circulation of knowledge and the capacity of epistemic agents to take up knowledge produced by others and make use of it. I argue that members of socially marginalized lay communities can suffer epistemic trust injustices when potentially powerful forms of knowing (such as scientific understandings) are generated in isolation from them, and when the social conditions required for a responsibly-placed trust to be formed relative to the relevant epistemic institutions fail to transpire.
Keith Harris (University of Missouri) ‘What’s Epistemically Wrong with Conspiracy Theorists’ Conspiracy theorists are often taken to exhibit an extreme sort of epistemic irrationality, yet it is strikingly difficult to pin down the unique epistemic errors, if any, that conspiracy theorists are prone to making. Indeed, many familiar criticisms of conspiracy theorists are misdirected. The criticisms most often leveled against conspiracy theorists fail to support attributions of epistemic irrationality—at least of any unique sort. But it would be a mistake to conclude from the defense of conspiracy theorists mounted in the first half of this paper that such individuals are epistemically faultless. In committing to a conspiracy theory, a given theorist is likely to commit a number of errors. First, a conspiracy theorist’s refusal to accept the official account of some target event is often motivated by a probabilistic, and fallacious, extension of modus tollens. Additionally, conspiracy theorists often exhibit an inconsistency of attention insofar as the effort they expend on uncovering the truth does not include an attention to their own capacities for biased or otherwise erroneous reasoning. Finally, the skepticism with which conspiracy theorists tend to regard common sources of information leaves little room for conspiracy theorists to attain positive warrant for their preferred explanations of target events.
Casey Johnson (University of Connecticut) ‘Just say ‘No’ Obligations to Voice Disagreement.’ It is uncontroversial that we sometimes have moral obligations to voice our disagreements, when, for example, the stakes are high and a wrong course of action will be pursued. But might we sometimes also have epistemic obligations to voice disagreements? In this paper, I will argue that we sometimes do. In other words, sometimes, to be behaving as we ought, qua epistemic agents, we must not only disagree with an interlocutor who has voiced some disagreed-with content but must also testify to this disagreement. This is surprising given that norms on testimony are generally taken to be permissive, and epistemic obligations are usually taken to be negative. In this paper I will discuss some occasions in which epistemic obligations to testify may arise, and I will attempt to investigate the nature of these obligations. I’ll briefly discuss the relationship between epistemic and moral norms. I’ll offer an account of what it takes to discharge epistemic obligations to testify. Finally, I’ll look at some accounts of epistemic obligation that might explain these obligations to voice disagreements.
Alessandra Tanesini (University of Cardiff) ‘Caring for esteem and intellectual reputation: some epistemic benefits and harms’ This paper has three aims. The first is to clarify the nature of esteem and of the related notions of reputation, fame and admiration. The second is to argue that a concern with one’s own intellectual reputation, and a motivation to seek the esteem and admiration of other members of one’s community, can be epistemically virtuous. The third is to explain some vices regarding these concerns for one’s own intellectual reputation and desire for esteem. These vices are intellectual vanity and intellectual timidity . Finally, the paper offers an account of some of the damaging effects of these vices on relations of epistemic dependence among agents who are members of the same epistemic community.
In addition to talks from the invited speakers there will be a dedicated poster session showcasing new directions in research on the conference theme. Natalie Ashton, Barbara Haas, Odin Kroeger, Bernd Liedl, Christoph Limbeck-Lilienau, and Dejan Makovec (Vienna) ‘Epistemic Lending With Interest: A Practice of Silencing’