Epistemic bunkers – Katherine Furman (University of Liverpool)

February 24, 2022 @ 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Richard Staley

One reason that fake news and other objectionable views gain traction is because they often come to us in the form of testimony from those in our immediate social circles; from those we trust. A language around this phenomenon has developed which describes social epistemic structures of ‘epistemic bubbles’ and ‘epistemic echo chambers’. These concepts involve the exclusion of external evidence in various ways. While these concepts help us see the ways that evidence is socially filtered, it doesn’t help us understand the social functions that these structures play, which limits our ability to intervene on them. In this paper, I introduce a new concept – that of the epistemic bunker. This concept helps us better account for a central feature of the phenomenon, which is that exclusionary social epistemic structures are often constructed to offer their members safety, either actual or perceived. Recognising this allows us to develop better strategies for mitigating their negative effects.

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