Irrelevant Cultural Influences on Belief

Journal of Applied Philosophy 36 (5):755-768 (2018)
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Abstract

Recent work in psychology on ‘cultural cognition’ suggests that our cultural background drives our attitudes towards a range of politically contentious issues in science such as global warming. This work is part of a more general attempt to investigate the ways in which our wants, wishes and desires impact on our assessments of information, events and theories. Put crudely, the idea is that we conform our assessments of the evidence for and against scientific theories with clear political relevance to our pre-existing political beliefs and convictions. In this paper I explore the epistemological consequences of cultural cognition. What does it mean for the rationality of our beliefs about issues such as global warming? I argue for an unsettling conclusion. Not only are those on the ‘political right’ who reject the scientific consensus on issues like global warming unjustified in doing so, some of those on the ‘political left’ who accept the consensus are also unjustified in doing so. I finish by addressing the practical implications of my conclusions.

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Robin McKenna
University of Liverpool

Citations of this work

Art as Political Discourse.Vid Simoniti - 2021 - British Journal of Aesthetics 61 (4):559-574.
The Surprising Truth About Disagreement.Neil Levy - 2020 - Acta Analytica 36 (2):137-157.
Asymmetrical Rationality: Are Only Other People Stupid?Robin McKenna - 2021 - In Michael Hannon & Jeroen de Ridder (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. New York: Routledge. pp. 285-295.
A (Partial) Defence of Moderate Skeptical Invariantism.Robin McKenna - 2021 - In Christos Kyriacou & Kevin Wallbridge (eds.), Skeptical Invariantism Reconsidered. Routledge. pp. 154-171.

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References found in this work

Epistemology of disagreement: The good news.David Christensen - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):187-217.
Irrelevant Influences.Katia Vavova - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:134-152.
The epistemology of democracy.Elizabeth Anderson - 2006 - Episteme 3 (1-2):8-22.
The Epistemology of Democracy.Elizabeth Anderson - 2006 - Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 3 (1):8-22.
Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs (2006).Charles S. Taber & Milton Lodge - 2012 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 24 (2):157-184.

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