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The Politics of Intellectual Self-trust

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Just as testimony is affected by unjust social relations, so too is intellectual self-trust. I defend an account of intellectual self-trust that explains both why it is properly thought of as trust and why it is directed at the self, and explore its relationship to social power. Intellectual self-trust is neither a matter of having dispositions to rely on one’s epistemic methods and mechanisms, nor having a set of beliefs about which ones are reliable. Instead, it is a stance that an agent takes towards her own cognitive methods and mechanisms, comprising both cognitive and affective elements. Our intellectual self-trust is created and sustained socially and is thus porous to social power. Unjust social relations cause epistemic injustice, which undermines self-trust among the underprivileged; unjust social relations cause excessive self-trust among the privileged, which perpetuates epistemic injustice, which further undermines the self-trust of the disadvantaged in a vicious feedback loop. I conclude by exploring ways in which socially distorted intellectual self-trust can become better calibrated.

Keywords: Affect; Bias; Epistemic Communities; Epistemic Injustice; Miranda Fricker; Self-Trust; Social Epistemology; Testimonial Injustice; Testimony; Trust

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2012

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