Beyond Belief: On Disinformation and Manipulation - ErkenntnisExisting analyses of disinformation tend to embrace the view that disinformation is intended or otherwise functions to mislead its audience, that is, to produce false beliefs. I argue that this view is doubly mistaken. First, while paradigmatic disinformation campaigns aim to produce false beliefs in an audience, disinformation may in some cases be intended only to prevent its audience from forming true beliefs. Second, purveyors of disinformation need not intend to have any effect at all on their audience’s beliefs, aiming instead to manipulate an audience’s behavior through alteration of sub-doxastic states. Ultimately, I argue that attention to such non-paradigmatic forms of disinformation is essential to understanding the threat disinformation poses and why this threat is so difficult to counter.
Epistemic Domination - published on April 15, 2023This paper identifies and elucidates the underappreciated phenomenon of epistemic domination. Epistemic domination is the nonmutual capacity of one party to control the evidence available to another. Where this capacity is exercised, especially by parties that are ill-intentioned or ill-informed, the dominated party may have difficulty attaining epistemically valuable states. I begin with a discussion of epistemic domination and how it is possible. I then highlight three negative consequences that may result from epistemic domination.
Liars and Trolls and Bots Online: The Problem of Fake Persons - Philosophy & TechnologyThis paper describes the ways in which trolls and bots impede the acquisition of knowledge online. I distinguish between three ways in which trolls and bots can impede knowledge acquisition, namely, by deceiving, by encouraging misplaced skepticism, and by interfering with the acquisition of warrant concerning persons and content encountered online. I argue that these threats are difficult to resist simultaneously. I argue, further, that the threat that trolls and bots pose to knowledge acquisition goes beyond the mere threat of online misinformation, or the more familiar threat posed by liars offline. Trolls and bots are, in effect, fake persons. Consequently, trolls and bots can systemically interfere with knowledge acquisition by manipulating the signals whereby individuals acquire knowledge from one another online. I conclude with a brief discussion of some possible remedies for the problem of fake persons.
Real Fakes: The Epistemology of Online Misinformation - Philosophy & TechnologyMany of our beliefs are acquired online. Online epistemic environments are replete with fake news, fake science, fake photographs and videos, and fake people in the form of trolls and social bots. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the threat that such online fakes pose to the acquisition of knowledge. I argue that fakes can interfere with one or more of the truth, belief, and warrant conditions on knowledge. I devote most of my attention to the effects of online fakes on satisfaction of the warrant condition, as these have received comparatively little attention. I consider three accounts of the conditions under which fakes compromise the warrant condition. I argue for the third of these accounts, according to which the propensity of fakes to exist in an environment threatens warrant acquisition in that environment. Finally, I consider some limitations on the epistemic threat of fakes and suggest some strategies by which this threat can be mitigated.
Some problems with particularism - SyntheseParticularists maintain that conspiracy theories are to be assessed individually, while generalists hold that conspiracy theories may be assessed as a class. This paper seeks to clarify the nature and importance of the debate between particularism and generalism, while offering an argument for a version of generalism. I begin by considering three approaches to the definition of conspiracy theory, and offer reason to prefer an approach that defines conspiracy theories in opposition to the claims of epistemic authorities. I argue that particularists rely on an untenably broad definition of conspiracy theory. Then, I argue that particularism and its counterpart are best understood as constellations of theses, rather than a pair of incompatible theses. While some particularist theses are highly plausible, I argue that one important particularist thesis is false. The argument for this conclusion draws on the history of false conspiracy theories. I then defend this conclusion against a pair of potential objections.
Video on demand: what deepfakes do and how they harm - SyntheseThis paper defends two main theses related to emerging deepfake technology. First, fears that deepfakes will bring about epistemic catastrophe are overblown. Such concerns underappreciate that the evidential power of video derives not solely from its content, but also from its source. An audience may find even the most realistic video evidence unconvincing when it is delivered by a dubious source. At the same time, an audience may find even weak video evidence compelling so long as it is delivered by a trusted source. The growing prominence of deepfake content is unlikely to change this fundamental dynamic. Thus, through appropriate patterns of trust, whatever epistemic threat deepfakes pose can be substantially mitigated. The second main thesis is that focusing on deepfakes that are intended to deceive, as epistemological discussions of the technology tend to do, threatens to overlook a further effect of this technology. Even where deepfake content is not regarded by its audience as veridical, it may cause its viewers to develop psychological associations based on that content. These associations, even without rising to the level of belief, may be harmful to the individuals depicted and more generally. Moreover, these associations may develop in cases in which the video content is realistic, but the audience is dubious of the content in virtue of skepticism toward its source. Thus, even if—as I suggest—epistemological concerns about deepfakes are overblown, deepfakes may nonetheless be psychologically impactful and may do great harm.
Minds and Persons
Whose (Extended) Mind Is It, Anyway? - ErkenntnisPresentations of the extended mind thesis are often ambiguous between two versions of that thesis. According to the first, the extension of mind consists in the supervenience base of human individuals’ mental states extending beyond the skull and into artifacts in the outside world. According to a second interpretation, human individuals sometimes participate in broader cognitive systems that are themselves the subjects of extended mental states. This ambiguity, I suggest, contributes to several of the most serious criticisms of the extended mind thesis, for these criticisms only apply to the first interpretation of the thesis. In what follows, I argue that several significant objections to the extended mind thesis fail to undermine the latter interpretation of that thesis. Having defended the second interpretation, I argue that the extension of mind does not involve the extension of self. Consequently, the subject of extended mental states is not the same individual whose causal coupling with external artifacts gives rise to extended mentality.
Why the Self Does Not Extend - ErkenntnisThe defensibility of the extended mind thesis (EMT) is often thought to hinge on the possibility of extended selves. I argue that the self cannot extend and consider the ramifications of this finding, especially for EMT. After an overview of EMT and the supposed cruciality of the extended self to the defensibility of the former thesis, I outline several lines of argument in support of the possibility of extended selves. Each line of argument appeals to a different account of diachronic personal identity. I argue that no such argument for extended selves succeeds, as no account of diachronic personal identity is both plausible and supports the view that the self can extend. Next, I consider three objections that, if successful, would undercut the preceding argument that the self cannot extend. I conclude by reflecting on the implications of the conclusion that the self cannot extend, including the prospects for EMT.
Collective intellectual humility and arrogance - SynthesePhilosophers and psychologists have devoted considerable attention to the study of intellectual humility and intellectual arrogance. To this point, theoretical and empirical studies of intellectual humility and arrogance have focused on these traits as possessed by individual reasoners. However, it is natural in some contexts to attribute intellectual humility or intellectual arrogance to collectives. This paper investigates the nature of collective intellectual humility and arrogance and, in particular, how these traits are related to the attitudes of individuals. I discuss three approaches to collective intellectual humility and arrogance. Rather than arguing that one of these approaches is applicable to all instances of collective intellectual humility and arrogance, I argue that there are at least two and perhaps three distinct forms of both collective intellectual humility and arrogance. Recognizing these distinct forms of collective intellectual humility and arrogance, I argue, is crucial to understanding how intellectual humility and arrogance are related to troubling phenomena like political polarization.
Does Knowledge Intellectualism Have a Gettier Problem?Abstract. Knowledge intellectualism is the view that knowledge-how requires propositional knowledge. Knowledge intellectualism has a Gettier problem, or so many of its critics allege. The essence of this problem is that knowledge-how is compatible with epistemic luck in a way that ordinary propositional knowledge is not. Hence, knowledge-how can allegedly be had in the absence of knowledge-that, a fact inconsistent with knowledge intellectualism.This paper develops two responses to this challenge to knowledge intellectualism. First, it is not clear that propositional knowledge is incompatible with the forms of epistemic luck with which knowledge-how is allegedly compatible. Second, existing cases intended to serve as counterexamples to knowledge intellectualism are flawed, and revised versions of these cases no longer elicit the judgments necessary to challenge knowledge intellectualism.
Knowledge-how and false belief - SyntheseAccording to a prominent account of knowledge-how, knowledge-how is a species of propositional knowledge. A related view has it that to know how to perform an action is for it to seem to one that a way to perform that action is in fact a way to do so. According to a further view, knowledge-how is a species of objectual knowledge. Each of these intellectualist views has significant virtues including, notably, the ability to account for the seemingly epistemic dimensions of knowledge-how. However, while intellectualist views can account for the seemingly epistemic dimensions of knowledge-how, such views have difficulty accounting for the practical dimensions of knowledge-how. The objection I level against existing intellectualist views here seizes on this deficiency. I argue that, in virtue of the practical dimensions of knowledge-how, propositional knowledge under a practical mode of presentation is not sufficient for knowledge-how. Even when the sufficiency conditions for knowledge-how set out by extant intellectualist views are met, one may fail to know how to perform an action in virtue of a disposition to act on a false belief about a way for one to perform that action. Thus, whereas critics of intellectualist views often allege that such views place overly demanding conditions on knowledge-how, the objection developed here suggests that existing intellectualist views place insufficiently demanding conditions on knowledge-how.
Outward-facing epistemic vice - SyntheseThe epistemic virtues and vices are typically defined in terms of effects or motivations related to the epistemic states of their possessors. However, philosophers have recently begun to consider other-regarding epistemic virtues, traits oriented toward the epistemic flourishing of others. In a similar vein, this paper discusses outward-facing epistemic vices, properties oriented toward the epistemic languishing of others. I argue for the existence of both reliabilist and responsibilist outward-facing vices, and illustrate how such vices negatively bear on the epistemic prospects of others. I pay special attention to how outward-facing epistemic vices may manifest in online activities that promote the epistemic languishing of others by negatively influencing the online epistemic environment.