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AGENTIAL INSENSITIVITY AND SOCIALLY SUPPORTED IGNORANCE

  • Lauren Woomer
Abstract

In this paper, I identify a form of epistemic insensitivity that occurs when someone fails to make proper use of the epistemic tools at their disposal in order to bring their beliefs in line with epistemically relevant evidence that is available to them. I call this kind of insensitivity agential insensitivity because it stems from the epistemic behavior of an individual agent. Agential insensitivity can manifest as a failure to either attend to relevant and available evidence, or appropriately interpret evidence that is attended to. The concept of agential insensitivity allows us to conceptualize the kind of not-knowing involved in forms of ignorance that are cultivated and maintained by individual agents, especially when this ignorance is enabled or encouraged by social structures. I use the skepticism about racial disparities in policing practices that is displayed by many white Americans as a lens for exploring this connection. Understanding agential insensitivity thus provides insight into both social and epistemic phenomena.

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Corresponding author
woomerl@gmail.com
References
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Episteme
  • ISSN: 1742-3600
  • EISSN: 1750-0117
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