At the next Perspectives on Science seminar on Monday 8.11., Katherine Furman (University of Liverpool) will give a presentation titled “Epistemic Bunkers”. The seminar takes place in Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45.
Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.
To join the seminar, please sign up here.
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.
Katherine is a lecturer in the University of Liverpool Philosophy Department. She is a philosopher of public policy and works closely with social scientists. Currently, she is working mostly on issues of public distrust in science. She has previously worked in Cork and in Durham. Her PhD was in philosophy at the London School of Economics.