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Beliefs and Biases

Forthcoming in Synthese.

Philosophers are divided over whether implicit biases are beliefs. Critics of the belief model of implicit bias argue that empirical data show that implicit biases are habitual but unstable and not sensitive to evidence. They are not rational or consistently action-guiding like beliefs are supposed to be. In contrast, proponents of the belief model of implicit bias argue that they are stable enough, sensitive to some evidence, and do guide our actions, albeit haphazardly sometimes. With the help of revisionary notions of belief, such as fragmented, Spinozan, and dispositional belief, these theorists argue that implicit biases are beliefs. I argue that both the critiques and defenses of belief models of implicit bias are problematic. This methodological critique suggests that debates about nature of the implicit bias ought to shift away from the belief question and toward more fundamental questions about stability and evidential sensitivity of implicit biases. I chart the path forward for this prescribed shift in the debate.

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