Extended Implicit Bias: When the Metaphysics and Ethics of Implicit Bias Collide

Erkenntnis 88 (8):3457-3478 (2022)
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It has recently been argued that to tackle social injustice, implicit biases and unjust social structures should be targeted equally because they sustain and ontologically overlap with each other. Here I develop this thought further by relating it to the hypothesis of extended cognition. I argue that if we accept common conditions for extended cognition then people’s implicit biases are often partly realized by and so extended into unjust social structures. This supports the view that we should counteract psychological and social contributors to injustice equally. But it also has a significant downside. If unjust social structures are part of people’s minds then dismantling these structures becomes more difficult than it currently is, as this will then require us to overcome widely accepted ethical and legal barriers protecting people’s bodily and personal integrity. Thus, while there are good grounds to believe that people’s biases and unjust social structures ontologically overlap, there are also strong ethical reasons to reject this view. Metaphysical and ethical intuitions about implicit bias hence collide in an important way.

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Uwe Peters
University of Cambridge

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References found in this work

The extended mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
The Bounds of Cognition.Frederick Adams & Kenneth Aizawa (eds.) - 2008 - Malden, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
The Imperative of Integration.Elizabeth Anderson - 2010 - Princeton University Press.

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