Fall 2023

Seminar: What We Epistemically Owe to One Another

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-482


Lauren J. Leydon-Hardy (Section 01)


This seminar explores our obligations to one another concerning what we know and believe. The language of "oughts," "shoulds," and "obligations" is familiar in the context of moral and political philosophy. But what do we epistemically owe to one another? Are we ever obliged to believe what someone tells us—not for moral or political reasons, like solidarity—but for epistemic reasons, including what evidence we have, or should have? And how do facts about social identity and the cognitive science of human bias inform these issues? Might we be obliged to bear witness to certain kinds of testimonies? Is it not only morally, but also epistemically wrong, to disbelieve a speaker on the basis of a hearer’s sincerely held identity-prejudicial attitude? Are there ways in which one’s social identity might make it harder, or easier, for them to acquire, or share, certain kinds of knowledge? Could it be wrong to defer to a speaker on the basis of their identity, out of a morally praiseworthy attitude, such as anti-racism? Are there some forms of knowledge to which we are entitled? Or, from which we deserve to be protected? We will explore these issues in theory and through applied discussions on topics including gaslighting, predatory grooming, false confessions in the criminal justice system, tokenism, and stereotype threat, and more. 

Requisite: Two courses in Philosophy. Limited to 15 students. Fall Semester.  Professor Leydon-Hardy

How to handle overenrollment: Preference to majors, then by class and to those who attend first class.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: an emphasis on written work and readings.

PHIL 482 - LEC

Section 01
Th 2:30 PM - 5:15 PM COOP 201


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023