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Dotson, Kristie, , . Accumulating Epistemic Power
2018, Philosophical Topics 46 (1):129-154.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Abstract: On December 3, 2014, in a piece entitled ‘White America’s Scary Delusion: Why Its Sense of Black Humanity Is So Skewed,’ Brittney Cooper criticizes attempts to deem Black rage at state-sanctioned violence against Black people ‘unreasonable.’ In this paper, I outline a problem with epistemology that Cooper highlights in order to explore whether beliefs can wrong. My overall claim is there are difficult-to-defeat arguments concerning the ‘legitimacy’ of police slayings against Black people that are indicative of problems with epistemology because of the epistemic power they accumulate toward resilient oblivion, which can have the effect of normalizing oppressive conditions. That is to say, if one takes the value of lessening oppression as a key feature of normative, epistemological conduct, then it can generate demands on epistemological orientations that, in turn, generate wrongs for beliefs and, more specifically, beliefs as wrongs.

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Fricker, Miranda, , . Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing
2007, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: In this exploration of new territory between ethics and epistemology, Miranda Fricker argues that there is a distinctively epistemic type of injustice, in which someone is wronged specifically in their capacity as a knower. Justice is one of the oldest and most central themes in philosophy, but in order to reveal the ethical dimension of our epistemic practices the focus must shift to injustice. Fricker adjusts the philosophical lens so that we see through to the negative space that is epistemic injustice. The book explores two different types of epistemic injustice, each driven by a form of prejudice, and from this exploration comes a positive account of two corrective ethical-intellectual virtues. The characterization of these phenomena casts light on many issues, such as social power, prejudice, virtue, and the genealogy of knowledge, and it proposes a virtue epistemological account of testimony. In this ground-breaking book, the entanglements of reason and social power are traced in a new way, to reveal the different forms of epistemic injustice and their place in the broad pattern of social injustice.

Comment: In this book, Fricker names the phenomenon of epistemic injustice, and distinguish two central forms of it, with their corresponding remedies. It touches the central issues in social epistemology and philosophy of gender and race. It is thus an essential reading for relevant courses on those two areas.

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Hieronymi, Pamela, , . Responsibility for Believing
2008, Synthese 161(3): 357-373.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Abstract: Many assume that we can be responsible only what is voluntary. This leads to puzzlement about our responsibility for our beliefs, since beliefs seem not to be voluntary. I argue against the initial assumption, presenting an account of responsibility and of voluntariness according to which, not only is voluntariness not required for responsibility, but the feature which renders an attitude a fundamental object of responsibility (that the attitude embodies one’s take on the world and one’s place in it) also guarantees that it could not be voluntary. It turns out, then, that, for failing to be voluntary, beliefs are a central example of the sort of thing for which we are most fundamentally responsible.

Comment: This is a great paper on epistemic responsibility about belief. It elucidates how we can be held responsible for our doxastic attitudes even if we don’t have voluntary control over them. It is suitable for teachings on epistemic responsibility and belief in an upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology.

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Preston-Roedder, Ryan, , . Faith in Humanity
2013, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87(3): 664-687.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: History and literature provide striking examples of people who are morally admirable, in part, because of their profound faith in people’s decency. But moral philosophers have largely ignored this trait, and I suspect that many philosophers would view such faith with suspicion, dismissing it as a form of naïvete or as some other objectionable form of irrationality. I argue that such suspicion is misplaced, and that having a certain kind of faith in people’s decency, which I call faith in humanity, is a centrally important moral virtue. In order to make this view intuitively more plausible, I discuss two moral exemplars – one historical and the other literary – whose lives vividly exhibit such faith. Then I provide a rationale for the view that having such faith is morally admirable. Finally, I discuss cases in which someone’s faith in humanity can lead her to make judgments that are, to some degree, epistemically irrational. I argue that the existence of such cases does not pose a serious objection to the view that having faith in humanity is a moral virtue. Rather, it makes salient important limits on the role that epistemic, as opposed to practical, rationality should occupy in our ideals of how to live.

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Zagzebski, Linda, , . On Epistemology
2009, Wadsworth.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Publisher’s Note: What is knowledge? Why do we want it? Is knowledge possible? How do we get it? What about other epistemic values like understanding and certainty? Why are so many epistemologists worried about luck? In ON EPISTEMOLOGY Linda Zagzebski situates epistemological questions within the broader framework of what we care about and why we care about it. Questions of value shape all of the above questions and explain some significant philosophical trends: the obsession with answering the skeptic, the flight from realism, and the debate between naturalism and anti-naturalism. THE WADSWORTH PHILOSOPHICAL TOPICS SERIES (under the general editorship of Robert Talisse, Vanderbilt University) presents readers with concise, timely, and insightful introductions to a variety of traditional and contemporary philosophical subjects. With this series, students of philosophy will be able to discover the richness of philosophical inquiry across a wide array of concepts, including hallmark philosophical themes and themes typically underrepresented in mainstream philosophy publishing. Written by a distinguished list of scholars who have garnered particular recognition for their excellence in teaching, this series presents the vast sweep of today’s philosophical exploration in highly accessible and affordable volumes. These books will prove valuable to philosophy teachers and their students as well as to other readers who share a general interest in philosophy.

Comment: Zagzebski offers a very approachable overview of main issues in Epistemology. Particularly useful in undergraduate teaching are: Chapter 1 which provides a general introduction focusing on the relationship between knowing and caring; Chapter 2 which introduces scepticism and presents some contemporary responses to it; and Chapter 5 which introduces Gettier problems. The remaining chapters expand on those topics and offer an overview of virtue epistemology.

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