In M. P. Lynch & Alessandra Tanesini (eds.), Arrogance and Polarisation (forthcoming)

Emma C. Gordon
University of Edinburgh (PhD)
J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow
In a recent and provocative paper, Matthew Fisher, Mariel Goddu, and Frank Keil have argued, on the basis of experimental evidence, that ‘searching the Internet leads people to conflate information that can be found online with knowledge “in the head” ’, specifically, by inclining us to conflate mere access to information for personal knowledge. This paper has three central aims. First, we briefly detail Fisher et al.’s results and show how, on the basis of re- cent work in virtue epistemology, their interpretation of the data supports the thesis that searching the Internet is conducive to the vice of intellectual arrogance. Second, we argue that this arrogance interpretation of the data rests on an implicit commitment to cognitive internalism. Thirdly, we show how the data can be given a very different explanation in light of the hypothesis of extended cognition —one which challenges the extent to which Fisher et al. are entitled to insist that subjects are actually conflating access to knowledge for personal knowledge in the first place. We conclude by suggesting how, against the background of extended cognition rather than cognitive internalism, we have some reason to think that searching the Internet might actually foster virtuous intellectual humility.
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