What is the status of research on implicit bias? In light of meta‐analyses revealing ostensibly low average correlations between implicit measures and behavior, as well as various other psychometric concerns, criticism has become ubiquitous. We argue that while there are significant challenges and ample room for improvement, research on the causes, psychological properties, and behavioral effects of implicit bias continues to deserve a role in the sciences of the mind as well as in efforts to understand, and ultimately combat, discrimination (...) and inequality. (shrink)
Scholars, journalists, and activists working on climate change often distinguish between “individual” and “structural” approaches to decarbonization. The former concern choices individuals can make to reduce their “personal carbon footprint” (e.g., eating less meat). The latter concern changes to institutions, laws, and other social structures. These two approaches are often framed as oppositional, representing a mutually exclusive forced choice between alternative routes to decarbonization. After presenting representative samples of this oppositional framing of individual and structural approaches in environmental communication, we (...) identify four problems with oppositional thinking and propose five ways to conceive of individual and structural reform as symbiotic and interdependent. (shrink)
“Implicit bias” is a term of art referring to relatively unconscious and relatively automatic features of prejudiced judgment and social behavior. While psychologists in the field of “implicit social cognition” study “implicit attitudes” toward consumer products, self-esteem, food, alcohol, political values, and more, the most striking and well-known research has focused on implicit attitudes toward members of socially stigmatized groups, such as African-Americans, women, and the LGBTQ community. For example, imagine Frank, who explicitly believes that women and men are equally (...) suited for careers outside the home. Despite his explicitly egalitarian belief, Frank might nevertheless implicitly associate women with the home, and this implicit association might lead him to behave in any number of biased ways, from trusting feedback from female co-workers less to hiring equally qualified men over women. Psychological research on implicit bias is relatively recent (§1), but a host of metaphysical (§2), epistemological (§3), and ethical questions (§4) about implicit bias are pressing.. (shrink)
How do cognition and affect interact to produce action? Research in intergroup psychology illuminates this question by investigating the relationship between stereotypes and prejudices about social groups. Yet it is now clear that many social attitudes are implicit. This raises the question: how does the distinction between cognition and affect apply to implicit mental states? An influential view—roughly analogous to a Humean theory of action—is that “implicit stereotypes” and “implicit prejudices” constitute two separate constructs, reflecting different mental processes and neural (...) systems. On this basis, some have also argued that interventions to reduce discrimination should combat implicit stereotypes and prejudices separately. We propose an alternative framework. We argue that all putative implicit stereotypes are affect-laden and all putative implicit prejudices are “semantic,” that is, they stand in co-activating associations with concepts and beliefs. Implicit biases, therefore, consist in “clusters” of semantic-affective associations, which differ in degree, rather than kind. This framework captures the psychological structure of implicit bias, promises to improve the power of indirect measures to predict behavior, and points toward the design of more effective interventions to combat discrimination. (shrink)
We identify several ongoing debates related to implicit measures, surveying prominent views and considerations in each debate. First, we summarize the debate regarding whether performance on implicit measures is explained by conscious or unconscious representations. Second, we discuss the cognitive structure of the operative constructs: are they associatively or propositionally structured? Third, we review debates whether performance on implicit measures reflects traits or states. Fourth, we discuss the question of whether a person’s performance on an implicit measure reflects characteristics of (...) the person who is taking the test or characteristics of the situation in which the person is taking the test. Finally, we survey the debate about the relationship between implicit measures and (other kinds of) behavior. (shrink)
The central contention of The Implicit Mind is that understanding the two faces of spontaneity-its virtues and vices-requires understanding the "implicit mind." In turn, Michael Brownstein maintains that understanding the implicit mind requires the consideration of three sets of questions. First, what are implicit mental states? What kind of cognitive structure do they have? Second, how should we relate to our implicit attitudes? Are we responsible for them? Third, how can we improve the ethics of our implicit minds?
Implicit intergroup biases have been shown to impact social behavior in many unsettling ways, from disparities in decisions to “shoot” black and white men in a computer simulation to unequal gender-based evaluations of résumés and CVs. It is a difficult question whether, and in what way, agents are responsible for behaviors affected by implicit biases. I argue that in paradigmatic cases agents are responsible for these behaviors in the sense that the behavior is “attributable” to them. That is, behaviors affected (...) by implicit biases reflect upon who one is as a moral agent. (shrink)
While those who take a "structuralist" approach to racial justice issues are right to call attention to the importance of social practices, laws, etc., they sometimes go too far by suggesting that antiracist efforts ought to focus on changing unjust social systems rather than changing individuals’ minds. We argue that while the “either/or” thinking implied by this framing is intuitive and pervasive, it is misleading and self-undermining. We instead advocate for a “both/and” approach to antiracist moral education that explicitly teaches (...) how social structures influence ideas about race and how ideas about race shape, sustain, and transform social structures. Ideally, antiracist moral education will help people see how social change and moral progress depend on the symbiotic relations between individuals and structures. We articulate a conception of “structure-facing virtue” that exemplifies this hybrid approach to illuminate the pivotal role moral education plays in the fight for racial justice. (shrink)
In recent work, Peter Railton, Julia Annas, and David Velleman aim to reconcile the phenomenon of “flow”—broadly understood as describing the “unreflective” aspect of skilled action—with one or another familiar conception of agency. While there are important differences between their arguments, Railton, Annas, and Velleman all make, or are committed to, at least one similar pivotal claim. Each argues, directly or indirectly, that agents who perform skilled unreflective actions can, in principle, accurately answer “Anscombean” questions—”what” and “why” questions— about what (...) they do. I argue against this claim and explore the ramifications for theories of skilled action and agency. (shrink)
We consider a range of cases—both hypothetical and actual—in which agents apparently know how to \ but fail to believe that the way in which they in fact \ is a way for them to \. These “no-belief” cases present a prima facie problem for Intellectualism about knowledge-how. The problem is this: if knowledge-that entails belief, and if knowing how to \ just is knowing that some w is a way for one to \, then an agent cannot both know (...) how to \ and fail to believe that w, the way that she \s, is a way for her to \. We discuss a variety of ways in which Intellectualists might respond to this challenge and argue that, ultimately, this debate converges with another, seemingly distinct debate in contemporary epistemology: how to attribute belief in cases of conflict between an agent’s avowals and her behavior. No-belief cases, we argue, reveal how Intellectualism depends on the plausibility of positing something like “implicit beliefs”—which conflict with an agent’s avowed beliefs—in many cases of apparent knowledge-how. While there may be good reason to posit implicit beliefs elsewhere, we suggest that there are at least some grounds for thinking that these reasons fail to carry over to no-belief cases, thus applying new pressure to Intellectualism. (shrink)
At the University of Sheffield during 2011 and 2012, a leading group of philosophers, psychologists, and others gathered to explore the nature and significance of implicit bias. The two volumes of Implicit Bias and Philosophy emerge from these workshops. Each volume philosophically examines core areas of psychological research on implicit bias as well as the ramifications of implicit bias for core areas of philosophy. Volume I: Metaphysics and Epistemology is comprised of two parts: “The Nature of Implicit Attitudes, Implicit Bias, (...) and Stereotype Threat,” and “Skepticism, Social Knowledge, and Rationality.” The first part contains chapters examining the relationship between implicit attitudes and “dual process” models of the mind; the role of affect in the formation and change of implicit associations; the unity (or disunity) of implicit attitudes; whether implicit biases are mental states at all; and whether performances on stereotype-relevant tasks are automatic and unconscious or intentional and strategic. The second part contains chapters examining implicit bias and skepticism; the effects of implicit bias on scientific research; the accessibility of social stereotypes in epistemic environments; the effects of implicit bias on the self-perception of members of stigmatized social groups as rational agents; the role of gender stereotypes in philosophy; and the role of heuristics in biased reasoning. (shrink)
While the causal contributions of so-called ‘automatic’ processes to behavior are now widely acknowledged, less attention has been given to their normative role in the guidance of action. We develop an account of the normativity of automaticity that responds to and builds upon Tamar Szabó Gendler's account of ‘alief’, an associative and arational mental state more primitive than belief. Alief represents a promising tool for integrating psychological research on automaticity with philosophical work on mind and action, but Gendler errs in (...) overstating the degree to which aliefs are norm-insensitive. (shrink)
There is abundant evidence that most people, often in spite of their conscious beliefs, values and attitudes, have implicit biases. 'Implicit bias' is a term of art referring to evaluations of social groups that are largely outside conscious awareness or control. These evaluations are typically thought to involve associations between social groups and concepts or roles like 'violent,' 'lazy,' 'nurturing,' 'assertive,' 'scientist,' and so on. Such associations result at least in part from common stereotypes found in contemporary liberal societies about (...) members of these groups. Implicit Bias and Philosophy brings the work of leading philosophers and psychologists together to explore core areas of psychological research on implicit bias, as well as the ramifications of implicit bias for core areas of philosophy. Volume 2: Moral Responsibility, Structural Injustice, and Ethics is comprised of three sections. 'Moral Responsibility for Implicit Bias' contains chapters examining the relationship of implicit biases to concepts that are central to moral responsibility, including control, awareness, reasons-responsiveness, and alienation. The chapters in the second section--'Structural Injustice'--explore the connections between the implicit biases held by individuals and the structural injustices of the societies in which they are situated. And finally, the third section--'The Ethics of Implicit Bias: Theory and Practice'--contains chapters examining strategies for implicit attitude change, the ramifications of research on implicit bias for philosophers working in ethics, and suggestions for combatting implicit biases in the fields of philosophy and law. (shrink)
Social psychologists tell us that much of human behavior is automatic. It is natural to think that automatic behavioral dispositions are ethically desirable if and only if they are suitably governed by an agent’s reflective judgments. However, we identify a class of automatic dispositions that make normatively self-standing contributions to praiseworthy action and a well-lived life, independently of, or even in spite of, an agent’s reflective judgments about what to do. We argue that the fundamental questions for the "ethics of (...) automaticity" are what automatic dispositions are (and are not) good for and when they can (and cannot) be trusted. (shrink)
At the University of Sheffield between 2011 and 2012, a leading group of philosophers, psychologists, and others gathered to explore the nature and significance of implicit bias. The two volumes of Implicit Bias and Philosophy emerge from these workshops. Each volume philosophically examines core areas of psychological research on implicit bias as well as the ramifications of implicit bias for core areas of philosophy. Volume II: Moral Responsibility, Structural Injustice, and Ethics is comprised of three parts. “Moral Responsibility for Implicit (...) Bias” contains chapters examining the relationship of implicit biases to concepts that are central to moral responsibility, including control, awareness, reasons-responsiveness, and alienation. The chapters in the second part—“Structural Injustice”—explore the connections between the implicit biases held by individuals and the structural injustices of the societies in which they are situated. And finally, the third part—“The Ethics of Implicit Bias: Theory and Practice”—contains chapters examining strategies for implicit attitude change, the ramifications of research on implicit bias for philosophers working in ethics, and suggestions for combating implicit biases in the fields of philosophy and law. (shrink)
Allen Buchanan and Russel Powell’s The Evolution of Moral Progress (EMP) is likely to become a landmark. It adeptly builds on much of the recent empirical work, weaving it together with philosophical material drawn from a series of essays published by the two authors. EMP makes the case that moral progress is not only consistent with human psychology but—under some conditions—likely. At its heart is a careful, well-developed rebuttal to the idea that there are evolved constraints endogenous to human minds (...) that place significant limits on various forms of moral progress, especially on the spread and sustainability of inclusive values. The alternative picture they present acknowledges that evolutionary history has shaped how our minds produce behaviour, but emphasizes that the contexts in which they currently operate are just as pivotal. While safe and stable ecological and social circumstances are hospitable to cosmopolitanism and encouraging of inclusive values, dangerous and threatening circumstances are more favourable to parochialism, exclusivist values, and morally regressive outgroup hostility (also see Buchanan and Powell , , ). Overall, EMP is a compelling, well-researched, and timely book. It articulates arguably the most persuasive naturalistic theory of moral progress to date, and lays the groundwork for important and impactful research. (shrink)
S-frames and i-frames do not represent two opposed types of intervention. Rather they are interpretive lenses for focusing on specific aspects of interventions, all of which include individual and structural dimensions. There is no sense to be made of prioritizing either system change or individual change, because each requires the other.
In what they call their “manual of the sanities”—a positive psychology handbook describing contemporary research on strengths of character—Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman argue that “there is no true disadvantage of having too much self-control.” This claim is widely endorsed in the research literature. I argue that it is false. My argument proceeds in three parts. First, I identify conceptual confusion in the definition of self-control, specifically as it pertains to the claim that you cannot be too self-controlled. Second, I (...) consider disadvantages to having too much self-control, several of which point to the value of acting spontaneously from time to time, in a pointedly uncontrolled way. Third, I raise worries about the social and political values embedded in the science of self-control. Self-control as it is understood in the positive psychology literature benefits some people more than others, depending, for example, on their race and their socio-economic status. I conclude by briefly outlining an empirical framework for understanding self-control in traditional virtue theoretic terms as something that admits of deficiencies and excesses. (shrink)
Based on a review of several “anomalies” in research using implicit measures, Machery (2021) dismisses the modal interpretation of participant responses on implicit measures and, by extension, the value of implicit measures. We argue that the reviewed findings are anomalies only for specific—influential but long-contested—accounts that treat responses on implicit measures as uncontaminated indicators of trait-like unconscious representations that coexist with functionally independent conscious representations. However, the reviewed findings are to-be-expected “normalities” when viewed from the perspective of long-standing alternative frameworks (...) that treat responses on implicit measures as the product of dynamic processes that operate on momentarily activated, consciously accessible information. Thus, although we agree with Machery that the modal view is empirically unsupported, we argue that implicit measures can make a valuable contribution to understanding the complexities of human behavior if they are used wisely in a way that acknowledges what they can and cannot do. (shrink)
We endorse Cesario's call for more research into the complexities of “real-world” decisions and the comparative power of different causes of group disparities. Unfortunately, these reasonable suggestions are overshadowed by a barrage of non sequiturs, misdirected criticisms of methodology, and unsubstantiated claims about the assumptions and inferences of social psychologists.
In recent years, Hubert Dreyfus has put forward a critique of the social and cultural effects of the Internet on modern societies based on the value of what he calls “the background” of largely tacit and unarticulated social norms. While Dreyfus is right to turn to the “background” in order to understand the effects of the Internet on society and culture, his unequivocally negative conclusions are unwarranted. I argue that a modified account of the background – one more attuned to (...) what the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu calls “social fields” – can lead to sounder and more illuminating conclusions. (shrink)
In their recent debate, Hubert Dreyfus rejects John McDowell’s claim that perception is permeated with "mindedness" and argues instead that ordinary embodied coping is largely "nonconceptual." This argument has important, yet largely unacknowledged consequences for normative social theory, which this article demonstrates through a critique of Charles Taylor’s Verstehen thesis. If Dreyfus is right that "the enemy of expertise is thought," then Taylor is denied his defense against charges of relativism, which is that maximizing the interpretive clarity of social practices (...) unequivocally makes for better practices. Verstehen social theory, I argue, must consider both the gains and losses of the attempt to make the meaning of our practices explicit. (shrink)
Most people show unconscious bias in their evaluations of social groups, in ways that may run counter to their conscious beliefs. Volume 1 addresses key metaphysical and epistemological questions on this kind of implicit bias, while Volume 2 turns to the themes of moral responsibility and injustice.
For nearly two centuries, developmental biologists have known that body organs are derived from distinct germ layers. They have argued that adult stem cells formed in one of these, mesoderm for example, cannot give rise to cells that originate in another. We disagree. An exception to this “rule” has been described in crayfish recently. In this species, hemocytes appear to replenish neurogenic cells. This may happen in humans as well. In women who were given male bone marrow‐derived cells, Y chromosome (...) positive cheek cells and brain neurons were detected. While repopulation of these tissues by bone marrow derived cells may not occur normally, and while it does not appear to be terribly efficient, the phenomenon should be studied in more detail. Perhaps cells in the marrow could be used to regenerate tissues elsewhere. (shrink)