My Research Interest
I am interested in how a good, well-intentioned person ought to navigate their epistemic lives in the sort of non-ideal world that we find ourselves in.
On the limits of the epistemic:
an essay in non-ideal epistemology
My research lies at the intersection of ethics, epistemology, and political theory. It examines the moral and political dimensions of our epistemic lives, and argues for a reorientation in our methodological commitments that would place our moral and political concerns above our epistemic ones. This sort of methodological reorientation need not challenge the normative authority of the epistemic, but serves instead to make transparent the limits of the epistemic.
In the sort of world that we inhabit, a good, well-intentioned epistemic agent will sometimes perpetuate injustice through no fault of their own. For this reason, I think that we would do well to focus less on the individual responsibilities of the isolated, mostly responsible epistemic agent, and more on the effects that our epistemic interactions can have on the people around us.
The Guiding Intuition
This sort of re-orientation promises to improve our understanding of some important concepts in some of the more recent work in social epistemology. For once we focus on the effects that our epistemic interactions can have on the people in our epistemic environment, we shall see that our current understandings of epistemic injustice, doxastic wronging, and moral encroachment, as well as of our own epistemic agency itself, ought to be revised.
It also allows us to move beyond the individualism of our past, and toward an understanding that the responsibility for systematic injustice cannot fall exclusively to any individual actor. Our beliefs do not arise ex nihilo, as if we could somehow stand outside of the particular historical circumstances that we find ourselves in, but are instead the products of our non-ideal, and often dysfunctional, epistemic environment. Once we recognize this fact, we shall see that the responsibility for epistemic injustice ultimately falls to the epistemic community as a whole.
What is more, in focusing on the effects that our epistemic interactions can have on the people in our epistemic community, and not so much on issues of praise and blameworthiness, which are intimately connected with the intentions and other mental states of the perpetrator, epistemic injustice and its concomitant harms will be easier to track.