Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (1):205-218 (2019)

Shanna Slank
University of Wisconsin, Madison
The Imposter Phenomenon—i.e., the phenomenon of feeling like a fraud and like your successes aren’t really yours—is typically construed not just as a crisis of confidence, but as a failure of rationality. On the standard story, “imposters” have bad beliefs about their talents because they dismiss the evidence provided by their successes. Here I suggest that this standard picture could be mistaken, and that these “imposters” may actually be more rational than non-imposters. Why? Accounting for the non-talent causes of your successes may require you to lower your confidence in your talents, in which case, “imposter” beliefs are rational. I then go on to suggest a second reason to worry about the standard picture: It does not adequately address the possible role that one’s environment has in the production of the phenomenon. To give an example, I hypothesize that environments that host a “culture of genius” can alter our evidential landscape in a way that promotes the Imposter Phenomenon. Finally, I argue that my alternative picture of the Imposter Phenomenon should prompt us to opt for a conception of self-worth that is more deeply tied to virtues like intellectual humility than to relative talent possession.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-019-09984-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 52,855
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Intellectual Humility as Attitude.Alessandra Tanesini - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (2):399-420.
Three Cheers for the Token Woman!Anca Gheaus - 2015 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 32 (2):163-176.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

II—What Should ‘Impostor Syndrome’ Be?Sarah K. Paul - 2019 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 93 (1):227-245.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

George Psalmanazar, Imposter and Penitent.Robert Bracey - 1924 - New Blackfriars 5 (50):82-88.
Empathy's Imposter.Paul Majkut - 2000 - Glimpse 2 (1):59-65.
Rip It Up and Start Again: The Rejection of a Characterization of a Phenomenon.David Colaço - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 72:32-40.
On the Essence of Appearance.Shun-fu Shen - 2007 - Modern Philosophy 4:80-86.
Phenomenology and Philosophical Understanding.Edo Pivcevic (ed.) - 1975 - Cambridge University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
28 ( #352,971 of 2,342,678 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #188,142 of 2,342,678 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes