What we can (and can’t) infer about implicit bias from debiasing experiments

Synthese (2):1-29 (2019)
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Abstract

The received view of implicit bias holds that it is associative and unreflective. Recently, the received view has been challenged. Some argue that implicit bias is not predicated on “any” associative process, but it is unreflective. These arguments rely, in part, on debiasing experiments. They proceed as follows. If implicit bias is associative and unreflective, then certain experimental manipulations cannot change implicitly biased behavior. However, these manipulations can change such behavior. So, implicit bias is not associative and unreflective. This paper finds philosophical and empirical problems with that argument. When the problems are solved, the conclusion is not quite right: implicit bias is not necessarily unreflective, but it seems to be associative. Further, the paper shows that even if legitimate non-associative interventions on implicit bias exist, then both the received view and its recent contender would be false. In their stead would be interactionism or minimalism about implicit bias.

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Nick Byrd
Stevens Institute of Technology

Citations of this work

Implicit bias.Michael Brownstein - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Construct validity in psychological tests – the case of implicit social cognition.Uljana Feest - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):1-24.
Reflective Reasoning & Philosophy.Nick Byrd - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (11):e12786.

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