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Epistemic Paternalism Defined

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Abstract

The previous chapter argued that recent research on our dual tendency for bias and overconfidence suggests that we cannot rely on ourselves for epistemic improvement, and that our best bet is to instead impose certain external constraints on information access, collection and evaluation. The purpose of this chapter is to argue that practices involving such external constraints are properly termed epistemically paternalistic. One of the few previous discussions of epistemic paternalism is provided by Alvin Goldman.1 Goldman suggests that certain forms of information control practised in society are motivated with reference to how they make us epistemically better off by protecting us from our cognitive failings, but he neither discusses the important role our tendencies for overconfidence play in motivating such protection, nor attempts to define the relevant kind of epistemic paternalism. Because we discussed the former issue in Chapter 1 , let us turn to the latter.

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... Having accepted science, the scientific method and its findings as a suitable basis for the assessment of the environmental context the framework-to-be-constructed is located in, 17 While this entire thesis is intended to be prescriptivist, meaning, it merely suggests certain perspectives, for an interesting argument for epistemic paternalism, see (Ahlstrom-Vij, 2013). ...
Thesis
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This thesis outlines the foundations for, and concept of Vector Utilitarianism, an ethical framework intended in particular for the analysis and assessment of ethically significant situations involving technology. It begins by establishing its epistemological and ontological underpinnings, not deriving from, but firmly grounding the framework in scientific Naturalism and the perspective of reality as described by science. Within this frame of reference, it discusses human self-perception as well as the way we view technology, leading to a proposition to re-assess commonplace conceptions of human exceptionalism and strong human-animal, human-technology distinctions. From there, the thesis proceeds to establish its theoretical foundations in terms of ethics and moral philosophy, by engaging with established ethical theory, moral philosophy and research in moral cognition and moral psychology. Based on this discussion, coupled with the foundations described earlier, it arrives at Consequentialism/Utilitarianism as the most suitable theoretical basis for the proposed ethical framework. In an attempt to provide a level meta-ethical playing field for all entities, regardless of material composition or evolutionary background, human, animal, technology or others, it proposes Vector Utilitarianism as a novel, original, consequentialist approach. Following the conceptual introduction, the thesis then proceeds to introduce how Vector Utilitarianism may be made use of and applied in principle and in practice, making use of both a variety of thought experiments and real world case studies. Finally, the thesis provides a summary of the arguments outlined and pleads for a continued effort to bring about a desirable technological future.
... Epistemic paternalism (henceforth, EP) is commonly regarded as a harmful epistemic practice that could undermine our freedom, epistemic autonomy, or both. However, in the last three decades, a few epistemologists have endorsed the view that there are both genuinely defensible forms of EP and epistemic goods that paternalistic interferences could allow the subjects interfered with to gain (see §2, Ahlstrom-Vij 2013;Bullock 2016;Goldman 1991;and Pritchard 2013). Surprisingly enough, not much work has been done on the question of who is rationally entitled to undertake paternalistic practices, and in virtue of which features one has this entitlement. ...
Article
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Epistemic paternalism is the thesis that in some circumstances we are justified in interfering with the inquiry of others for their own epistemic good without consulting them on the issue. This paper addresses the issue of who is rationally entitled to undertake paternalistic interferences, and in virtue of which features one has this entitlement. First, it undermines the view according to which experts are the most apt people to act as paternalist interferers. Then it argues that epistemic authorities are in a better position to satisfy the requirements of justified epistemic paternalism, when conceived according to the service model of epistemic authority. Finally, it offers a virtue‐based account of paternalist interferers and shows how it can apply to cases in which the interferer is a group or an institution.
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