Dogmatism and the Epistemology of Covert Selection

In Nathan Ballantyne & David Dunning (eds.), Reason, Bias, and Inquiry: The Crossroads of Epistemology and Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press (2022)
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Abstract

Perceptual dogmatism is a prominent theory in epistemology concerning the relationship between perceptual experience and reasonable belief. It holds that, in the absence of counterevidence, it is reasonable to believe what your perceptual experience tells you. Thus, if you are not aware of your experience’s casual history, then it doesn’t matter. Critics object that the causal history does matter: when a perceptual experience is caused in certain ways, it is unreasonable to trust what it tells you. These objections regularly appeal to cognitive penetration and biased searches for evidence. Given the myriad accounts of what covert attention is, one wonders (at least I wondered) if biased patterns of covert attention could raise a new objection to dogmatism. I argue that, while covert selection might raise various problems for dogmatism, none of them are new. This is good news for dogmatism, because the fewer distinct problems it faces, the more likely it can resolve them all.

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Chris Tucker
William & Mary

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