Can the fact that something is morally wrong to believe affect whether the evidence you have justifies that belief? In her paper, Georgi Gardiner argues that the answer is "no". We should follow the evidence where it leads and align our beliefs with the evidence. And if we do that, she argues, we’ll discover that morally wrong beliefs—such as racist beliefs--simply don’t align with the evidence. On this view, racist beliefs are irrational because they are unsupported by evidence or reflect cognitive errors in statistical reasoning, not because they are immoral.
Links and Resources
- Georgi Gardiner
- The paper
- On the Epistemic Costs of Implicit Bias by Tamar Gendler
- Varieties of Moral Encroachment by Renée Jorgensen Bolinger
- Radical moral encroachment: The moral stakes of racist beliefs by Rima Basu
- Doxastic Wronging by Rima Basu & Mark Schroeder
- Beyond Accuracy: Epistemic Flaws with Statistical Generalizations by Jessie Munton
"Advocates of moral encroachment aim to describe a person whose beliefs are epistemically impeccable—well supported by the evidence and conscientiously considered—yet morally wrong because racist. My contention is that no such belief can exist. If a belief is morally wrong then there is some corresponding prior epistemic error. The belief is not well supported by the evidence and/or it is not interpreted through a morally appropriate understanding, and that understanding is not epistemically well supported. If a belief is epistemically well supported it cannot be racist since no true fact is genuinely racist. With the right background understanding we see that since everyone is equal, any differences based on gender, race, and so on are morally insignificant."