The Epistemic Misuse & Abuse of Pictorial Caricature

American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (2):137-152 (2013)
Abstract
I claim that caricature is an epistemically defective depiction. More precisely, when employed in service to some epistemic uptake, I claim that caricature can have a non-negligible epistemic effect only for a less than ideally rational audience with certain cognitive biases. An ideally rational audience, however, would take all caricature to be what I refer to as fairground caricature, i.e., an interesting or entertaining form of depiction that is at best only trivially revelatory. I then argue that any medium (or genre) substantially employing caricature (or standardly featuring or prescribing its employment) in service to some epistemic uptake is to that extent an epistemically defective medium (e.g., beliefs informed by works specific to that medium are to that extent unwarranted). I then show the editorial cartoon to be just such an epistemically defective medium.
Keywords Depiction  Caricature  Epistemic Value  Misrepresentation
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