In this paper I provide an account of two forms of intellectual arrogance which cause the epistemic practices of conversational turn-taking and assertion to malfunction. I detail some of the ethical and epistemic harms generated by intellectual arrogance, and explain its role in fostering the intellectual vices of timidity and servility in other agents. Finally, I show that arrogance produces ignorance by silencing others (both preventing them from speaking and causing their assertions to misfire) and by fostering self-delusion in the (...) arrogant themselves. (shrink)
Intellectual humility, I argue in this paper, is a cluster of strong attitudes directed toward one's cognitive make-up and its components, together with the cognitive and affective states that constitute their contents or bases, which serve knowledge and value-expressive functions. In order to defend this new account of humility I first examine two simpler traits: intellectual self-acceptance of epistemic limitations and intellectual modesty about epistemic successes. The position defended here addresses the shortcomings of both ignorance and accuracy based accounts of (...) humility. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an original account of intellectual modesty and some of its surrounding vices: intellectual haughtiness, arrogance, servility and self-abasement. I argue that these vices are attitudes as social psychologists understand the notion. I also draw some of the educational implications of the account. In particular, I urge caution about the efficacy of direct instruction about virtue and of stimulating emulation through exposure to positive exemplars.
Intellectual servility is a vice opposing proper pride about one's intellectual achievements. Intellectual timidity is also a vice; it is manifested in a lack of proper concern for others’ esteem. This paper offers an account of the nature of these vices and details some of the epistemic harms that flow from them. I argue that servility, which is often the result of suffering humiliation, is a form of damaged self-esteem. It is underpinned by attitudes serving social-adjustive functions and causes ingratiating (...) behaviors. Timidity, which is habituated through self-silencing, is underpinned by negative attitudes toward the intellectual worth of the self, which serve a defensive function. Like servility, timidity is an obstacle to the acquisition and transmission of knowledge and especially knowledge about oneself. (shrink)
This article argues that intellectual character vices involve non-instrumental motives to oppose, antagonise, or avoid things that are epistemically good in themselves. This view has been the recent target of criticism based on alleged counterexamples presenting epistemically vicious individuals who are virtuously motivated or at least lack suitable epistemically bad motivations. The paper first presents these examples and shows that they do not undermine the motivational approach. Finally, having distinguished motivating from explanatory reasons for belief and action, it argues that (...) our epistemic practice of vice attribution supplies evidence in favour of motivational accounts of vice. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an innovative interpretation of Nietzsche's metaethical theory of value which shows him to be a kind of constitutivist. For Nietzsche, I argue, valuing is a conative attitude which institutes values, rather than tracking what is independently of value. What is characteristic of those acts of willing which institute values is that they are owned or authored. Nietzsche makes this point using the vocabulary of self-mastery. One crucial feature of those who have achieved this feat, and (...) have consequently become agents, is that they possess a diachronic or long will and are consequently capable of the rational governance of future behaviour. The possession of a will of this sort is crucial because it is a necessary condition for engaging in temporally unified activities which are a requisite of authorship. Nietzsche, I argue, makes these points in his doctrine of eternal recurrence which provides a test that acts of will must pass to count as laws. In the final section of the paper I argue for the superiority of this interpretation over some of its competitors. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that in Western contemporary societies testimony is structured by norms of reciprocation and thus is best understood as involving the exchange of gifts rather than, as philosophers and game theorists have tended to presume, market transactions. My argument is based on an initial analysis of the reactive attitudes that are exhibited in testimonial exchanges. I highlight the central role played by the reciprocating attitudes of gratitude and gratification respectively in the recipient and the donor of (...) testimony. This analysis leads to an account of the speech act of telling that is the primary vehicle of testimony. Telling, I argue, is a commissive but it is not, as it is usually presumed, akin to promising. Instead, its nature is that of an offer of a gift. Finally, I develop an account of the norms of trust and trustfulness as reciprocating social norms. I show that adopting these norms provides a particularly effective solution of the problem of cooperation. The solution is particularly effective because it incentivises both the sharing of epistemic goods and the acquisition of further such goods so that one is able to share them. (shrink)
Although their positions and arguments differ in several respects, feminists have asserted that science, knowledge, and rationality cannot be severed from their social, political, and cultural aspects.
Arrogance has widespread negative consequences for epistemic practices. Arrogant people tend to intimidate and humiliate other agents, and to ignore or dismiss their views. They have a propensity to mansplain. They are also angry. In this paper I explain why anger is a common manifestation of arrogance in order to understand the effects of arrogance on debate. I argue that superbia is a vice of superiority characterised by an overwhelming desire to diminish other people in order to excel and by (...) a tendency to arrogate special entitlements for oneself, including the privilege of not having to justify one’s claims. (shrink)
Communities often respond to traumatic events in their histories by destroying objects that would cue memories of a past they wish to forget and by building artefacts which memorialize a new version of their history. Hence, it would seem, communities cope with change by spreading memory ignorance so to allow new memories to take root. This chapter offers an account of some aspects of this phenomenon and of its epistemological consequences. Specifically, it is demonstrated in this chapter that collective forgetfulness (...) is harmful. Here, the focus is exclusively on the harms caused by its contribution to undermining the intellectual self-trust of some members of the community. Further, since some of these harms are also wrongs, collective amnesia contributes to causing epistemic injustices. (shrink)
This paper has five aims: it clarifies the nature of esteem and of the related notions of admiration and reputation ; it argues that communities that possess practices of esteeming individuals for their intellectual qualities are epistemically superior to otherwise identical communities lacking this practice and that a concern for one's own intellectual reputation, and a motivation to seek the esteem and admiration of other members of one's community, can be epistemically virtuous ; it explains two vices regarding these concerns (...) for one's own intellectual reputation and desire for esteem: intellectual vanity and intellectual timidity ; finally, it offers an account of some of the epistemic harms caused by these vices. (shrink)
Theories of assertion must explain how silencing is possible. This chapter defends an account of assertion in terms of normative commitments on the grounds that it provides the most plausible analysis of how individuals might be silenced when attempting to make assertions. The chapter first offers an account of the nature of silencing and defends the view that it can occur even in contexts where speakers’ communicative intentions are understood by their audience. Second, it outlines some of the normative commitments (...) characteristic of assertion when used in the speech act of telling;. This commitment view of assertion is then used to explain silencing as a matter of being deprived of the ability to make some of the commitments one is trying to acquire. Finally, the main rivals of the commitment view of assertion endorsed here are shown to be unable to account for silencing, at least when they are considered in their purest form. (shrink)
Alessandra Tanesini ABSTRACT: Arrogance has widespread negative consequences for epistemic practices. Arrogant people tend to intimidate and humiliate other agents, and to ignore or dismiss their views. They have a propensity to mansplain. They are also angry. In this paper I explain why anger is a common manifestation of arrogance in order to understand the...
Self- affirmation techniques can help reduce arrogant behaviour in public debates. This chapter consists of three sections. The first offers an account of what speakers owe to their audiences, and of what hearers owe to speakers. It also illustrates some of the ways in which arrogance leads to violations of conversational norms. The second argues that arrogance can be understood as an attitude toward the self which is positive but defensive. The final section offers empirical evidence why we should expect (...) self-affirmation to reduce defensiveness and thus the manifestation of arrogance in debate. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have defended the view that seemingly intellectually arrogant behaviours are epistemically beneficial. In this chapter I take issue with most of their conclusions. I argue, for example, that we should not expect steadfastness in one's belief in the face of contrary evidence nor overconfidence in one’s own abilities to promote better evaluation of the available evidence resulting in good-quality group-judgement. These features of individual thinkers are, on the contrary, likely to lead groups to end up in (...) stalemates and to polarise over issues. It is true that groups benefit from including members that, prior to discussion, hold diverse views. But disagreement benefits group judgement only when it is transient, rather than entrenched. That is, groups reach better quality conclusions when a number of diverse opinions are disseminated and evaluated fairly before reaching a consensus. If this is right, it would seem that individual qualities, such as open-mindedness and even-handedness about the epistemic value of opinions other than one's own, rather than steadfastness or overconfidence are conducive to better quality group judgement. (shrink)
Traditional accounts of perception endorse an input–output model: perception is the input from world to mind and action is the output from mind to world. In contrast, enactive accounts propose action to be constitutive of perception. We focus on Noë's sensorimotor version of enactivism, with the aim of clarifying the proper limits of enactivism more generally. Having explained Noë's particular version of enactivism, which accounts for the contents of perceptual experience in terms of sensorimotor knowledge, we use taste as a (...) test for his central thesis. We conclude that taste and other similar senses do not display the central features which Noë claims apply to all perceptual experience. (shrink)
Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science is the study of the significance of gender for the acquisition and justification of knowledge. At its inception, feminist epistemology was in large part concerned with science and showed more affinity with the history and philosophy of science and with social and cultural studies of science than with mainstream epistemology. Since the early 2000s, however, significant new trends have led to the production of extremely innovative work, such as a turn toward a conception of (...) matter as being in some ways like an agent in science studies, as well as a focus on topics at the interface between ethics and epistemology in feminist epistemology. (shrink)
Covert spatial attention alters the way things look. There is strong empirical evidence showing that objects situated at attended locations are described as appearing bigger, closer, if striped, stripier than qualitatively indiscernible counterparts whose locations are unattended. These results cannot be easily explained in terms of which properties of objects are perceived. Nor do they appear to be cases of visual illusions. Ned Block has argued that these results are best accounted for by invoking what he calls ‘mental paint’. In (...) this paper I argue, instead, in favour of an account of these phenomena in terms of the perceptual experience of affordances concerning saccadic eye movement. As part of the argument I draw connections with the empirical literature on the way in which performance efficiency also alters visual appearance. (shrink)
One of the most influential analytic philosophers of the late twentieth century, William P. Alston is a leading light in epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. In this volume, twelve leading philosophers critically discuss the central topics of his work in these areas, including perception, epistemic circularity, justification, the problem of religious diversity, and truth.
In this new book, Alessandra Tanesini demonstrates that feminist thought has a lot to offer to the study of Wittgenstein's philosophical work, and that -at the same time-that work can inspire feminist reflection in new directions. In Wittgenstein, Tanesini offers a highly original interpretation of several themes in Wittgenstein's philosophy. She argues that when we look at his work through feminist eyes we discover that he is not primarily concerned with providing solutions to technical problems in the philosophy of mind, (...) mathematics, and language. Instead, his remarks on these topics are intended to offer insights about human finitude, the loneliness of the modern autonomous self, and our relations to other human beings. Thus, the modern conception of the individual emerges as the critical target of Wittgenstein's philosophical work, both early and late. This conception has also been one of the dominant concerns of contemporary feminist philosophy. In this book, Wittgenstein's insights are deployed to further feminist debates on issues such as identity, difference, the masculine character of the modern self. (shrink)
Alessandra Tanesini is a Professor of Philosophy at Cardiff University working on epistemology and philosophy of language. In this post she summarises some of her recent work on collective amnesia and epistemic injustice.
I argue that the semantic content of thoughts and the linguistic meaning of expressions are things with a history in the sense that they can be made fully intelligible only from the point of view of the future. I defend this position by articulating a version of a view known in the philosophy of language as temporal externalism. Temporal externalism about content is the view that the content of a subject’s thoughts and utterances at a time t depends on features (...) of the linguistic practices of her community after t. There are two different ways in which temporal externalism can be developed. First, one can take it to be the view according to which the meaning of an expression is given by the whole pattern of use, including future ones, of that expression. Alternatively, one can interpret temporal externalism as the view that the meaning of a speaker’s utterance is determined by the norms that govern or constrain her linguistic behaviour. These norms, which may be instituted at a later date, place their authoritative stamp upon prior conduct. I show that the first version of temporal externalism faces severe objections from which the second version is immune. I also provide a defence of this second position through an extensive discussion of some thought experiments. (shrink)
In their excellent book The Phenomenological Mind Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi demonstrate that analytic philosophy of mind and cognitive science have much to learn from work conducted in the phenomenological tradition. In particular, they show how discussions about embodied cognition, about the self, and about mind-reading could be greatly enhanced if the lessons of phenomenology were heeded to. However, their discussion of the structure of intentionality is, in my view, less successful in this regard.