Prejudice, generics, and resistance to evidence

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (2023)
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Abstract

In his book, "Prejudice", Endre Begby offers a novel and engaging account of the epistemology of prejudice which challenges some of the standard assumptions that have so far guided the recent discussion on the topic. One of Begby's central arguments against the standard view of prejudice, according to which a prejudiced person necessarily displays an epistemically culpable resistance to counterevidence, is that, qua stereotype judgments, prejudices can be flexible and rationally maintained upon encountering many disconfirming instances. By expanding on Begby's analysis, I argue that, given the variety of truth conditions for true generic statements, the generic form of stereotype judgements can sometimes make prejudice extremely resistant to encounters with statistical facts about the distribution of the property among members of a certain group. At the same time, I argue that a more careful consideration of the generic form of stereotypes also allows us to recognize that evidence about how many members of the kind instantiate a property is not the only type of evidence which could disconfirm a prejudice. Evidence of no explanatory relation between a kind and a property should also have a direct effect on a prejudicial belief. For this reason, things may not look as dim for the standard view of prejudice in assessing paradigmatic instances of prejudicial beliefs as irrationally resistant to evidence.

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M. Giulia Napolitano
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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References found in this work

Unprincipled virtue: an inquiry into moral agency.Nomy Arpaly - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Generics: Cognition and acquisition.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (1):1-47.
The Radical Account of Bare Plural Generics.Anthony Nguyen - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1303-1331.

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