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Georgi Gardiner. Banal Skepticism and the Errors of Doubt: On Ephecticism about Rape Accusations
2021, Midwest Studies in Philosophy
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: Ephecticism is the tendency towards suspension of belief. Epistemology often focuses on the error of believing when one ought to doubt. The converse error—doubting when one ought to believe—is relatively underexplored. This essay examines the errors of undue doubt. I draw on the relevant alternatives framework to diagnose and remedy undue doubts about rape accusations. Doubters tend to invoke standards for belief that are too demanding, for example, and underestimate how farfetched uneliminated error possibilities are. They mistake seeing how incriminating evidence is compatible with innocence for a reason to withhold judgement. Rape accusations help illuminate the causes and normativity of doubt. I propose a novel kind of epistemic injustice, for example, wherein patterns of unwarranted attention to farfetched error possibilities can cause those error possibilities to become relevant. Widespread unreasonable doubt thus renders doubt reasonable and makes it harder to know rape accusations. Finally, I emphasise that doubt is often a conservative force and I argue that the relevant alternatives framework helps defend against pernicious doubt-mongers.

Comment: Applies epistemology's relevant alternatives theory to diagnosis why rape accusations are doubted so much. It outlines the theory first, so no need for a pre-read. Identifies the tricks and mistakes of "doubt mongers", who refuse to believe despite good evidence. Good for an applied philosophy, feminism, or upper-level epistemology course. Also good to interject current topics / MeToo into a course. Comes with a "cheat sheet" (i.e. a handout that outlines the published essay, to make teaching it easier). A word and PDF version of the cheat sheet are here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Uyki8vj7_FkVHcmThrAbEiw5-BtRSF0n

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