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
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DOI 10.1111/tops.12179
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References found in this work BETA

Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Harvard University Press.
Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - Cambridge University Press.
Against Method.Paul Feyerabend - 1975 - London: New Left Books.

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Citations of this work BETA

Trust Me: News, Credibility Deficits, and Balance.Carrie Figdor - 2018 - In Joe Saunders & Carl Fox (eds.), Media Ethics, Free Speech, and the Requirements of Democracy. New York, USA and Abingdon, UK: Routledge. pp. 69-86.
Understanding and Trusting Science.Matthew H. Slater, Joanna K. Huxster & Julia E. Bresticker - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (2):247-261.
Future Global Change and Cognition.Stephan Lewandowsky - 2016 - Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (1):7-18.

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