Authors
Nick Hughes
Oxford University
Abstract
Epistemologists spend a great deal of time thinking about how we should respond to our evidence. They spend far less time thinking about the ways that evidence can be acquired in the first place. This is an oversight. Some ways of acquiring evidence are better than others. Many normative epistemologies struggle to accommodate this fact. In this article I develop one that can and does. I identify a phenomenon – epistemic feedback loops – in which evidence acquisition has gone awry, with the result that even beliefs based on the evidence are irrational. Examples include evidence acquired under the influence of confirmation bias and evidence acquired under the influence of cognitively penetrated experiences caused by implicit bias. I then develop a theoretical framework which enables us to understand why beliefs that are the outputs of epistemic feedback loops are irrational. Finally, I argue that many popular approaches to epistemic normativity may need to be abandoned on the grounds that they cannot comfortably explain feedback loops. The scope of this last claim is broad: it includes almost all contemporary theories of justified/rational belief and of the epistemology of cognitive penetration.
Keywords Epistemic feedback loops  Confirmation bias  Implicit bias  Cognitive penetration  Zetetic epistemology  Epistemic dilemmas  Dispositionalism
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DOI 10.1111/phpr.12849
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References found in this work BETA

Epistemology and Cognition.Alvin Ira Goldman - 1986 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
What is Justified Belief?Alvin Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
The Importance of Being Rational.Errol Lord - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
The Normativity of Rationality.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Justifications, Excuses, and Sceptical Scenarios.Timothy Williamson - forthcoming - In Fabian Dorsch & Julien Dutant (eds.), The New Evil Demon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Who's Afraid Of Epistemic Dilemmas?Nick Hughes - forthcoming - In Scott Stapleford, Mathias Steup & Kevin McCain (eds.), Epistemic Dilemmas: New Arguments, New Angles.

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