The Ethics of Belief, Cognition, and Climate Change Pseudoskepticism: Implications for Public Discourse

Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (1):19-48 (2016)

Authors
Lawrence Torcello
Rochester Institute of Technology
Abstract
The relationship between knowledge, belief, and ethics is an inaugural theme in philosophy; more recently, under the title “ethics of belief” philosophers have worked to develop the appropriate methodology for studying the nexus of epistemology, ethics, and psychology. The title “ethics of belief” comes from a 19th-century paper written by British philosopher and mathematician W.K. Clifford. Clifford argues that we are morally responsible for our beliefs because each belief that we form creates the cognitive circumstances for related beliefs to follow, and we inevitably influence each other through those beliefs. This study argues that recent cognitive research supports Cliffordian insights regarding patterns of belief formation and social influence. From the confirmation offered by such research, it follows that informational accuracy holds serious ethical significance in public discourse. Although scientific and epistemological matters are not always thought to be linked to normative morality, this study builds on Clifford's initial insights to show their linkage is fundamental to inquiry itself. In turn, Clifford's ethical and epistemic outline can inform a framework grounded in “public reason” under which seemingly opposed science communication strategies are philosophically united. With public discourse on climate change as the key example, empirically informed and grounded strategies for science communication in the public sphere are considered.
Keywords Scientific consensus  Science denial  Public reason  Ethics of belief  Climate change  Mere‐exposure effect  Anthropogenic global warming  Information deficit  Cultural cognition
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/tops.12179
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 39,607
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.John Rawls - 2001 - Harvard University Press.
Against Method.Paul Feyerabend - 1975 - London: New Left Books.
Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle - 1998 - Oxford University Press.

View all 48 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Understanding and Trusting Science.Matthew H. Slater, Joanna K. Huxster & Julia E. Bresticker - forthcoming - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie:1-15.
Future Global Change and Cognition.Stephan Lewandowsky - 2016 - Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (1):7-18.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Future Global Change and Cognition.Stephan Lewandowsky - 2016 - Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (1):7-18.
Strange Weather, Again.B. Wynne - 2010 - Theory, Culture and Society 27 (2-3):289-305.
Climate Projections and Uncertainty Communication.Susan L. Joslyn & Jared E. LeClerc - 2016 - Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (1):222-241.
The Trouble with Pseudoskepticism.Lawrence Torcello - 2012 - Skeptical Inquirer 36 (3).

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-01-22

Total views
134 ( #51,088 of 2,325,335 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
20 ( #32,039 of 2,325,335 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature