Reflections on dealing with epistemically vicious students

Tuomas Manninen
Arizona State University, United States | Tuomas.Manninen@asu.edu

Received: 1-June-2019 | Accepted: 16-August-2019 | Published Online: 24-November-2019
Disputatio [Dec. 2019], Vol. 9, No. 13, pp. 00-00 | DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3567255
Article | [EN] | Full Text | Statistics | Copyright Notice [sp] | Vol. 9 No. 13

How to cite this article:
Manninen, Tuomas (2020). «Reflections on dealing with epistemically vicious students». Disputatio. Philosophical Research Bulletin 9, no. 13: pp. 00–00.


Abstract | As a philosophy instructor, I strive to get my students to think critically about the subject matter. However, over the years I have encountered many students who seem to deliberately want to avoid thinking critically. I am talking particularly about some students in my “Science and Religion” course, who subscribe to scientific creationism and endorse anti–scientific beliefs which seem to be irrational. In this essay, I will offer reflections of my experiences from these classes, and argue that individuals who subscribe to creationism exhibit a combination of epistemic vices that makes them prone to holding incorrect views. Employing Quassim Cassam’s framework on the epistemic vices of conspiracy theorists in his “Vice Epistemology”, I argue that the creationists’ beliefs can best be understood as resulting from similar vices. Subsequently, I move to consider the reasons why these students subscribe to creationism, using Katherine Dormandy’s analysis in her “Does Epistemic Humility Threaten Religious Beliefs?” as a springboard. Following Dormandy, I explore how epistemic vices (in particular the lack of epistemic humility) lead to someone holding false —even irrational— beliefs. Finally, I will consider strategies in dealing with vice–charging the epistemically vicious students in a way that avoids the practical difficulties noted by Ian James Kidd in his “Charging Others with Epistemic Vice”.
Keywords |
Virtue Epistemology · Epistemic Vice · Epistemic Humility · Creationism · Science Denialism.

Reflexiones sobre lidiar con estudiantes con vicios epistémicos

Resumen | Como profesor de filosofía me esfuerzo por lograr que mis alumnos razonen críticamente. Sin embargo, a lo largo de los años me he encontrado con muchos estudiantes que parecen querer evitar de forma deliberada pensar de forma crítica. Particularmente algunos estudiantes de mi curso sobre “Ciencia y religión” que apoyan el creacionismo científico y respaldan creencias anti-científicas que parecen ser irracionales. En este ensayo, ofreceré reflexiones sobre mis experiencias en estas clases, y argumentaré que las personas que se suscriben al creacionismo exhiben una combinación de vicios epistémicos que los hace propensos a tener puntos de vista incorrectos. Utilizando el marco desarrollado por Quassim Cassam en su “Vice Epistemology” sobre los vicios epistémicos presentes en los teóricos de la conspiración, sostengo que las creencias de los creacionistas pueden entenderse mejor como resultado de vicios similares. Posteriormente, examino las razones por las cuales estos estudiantes suscriben el creacionismo, utilizando el análisis de Katherine Dormandy en su “Does Epistemic Humility Threaten Religious Beliefs?”. Siguiendo a Dormandy, exploro cómo los vicios epistémicos (en particular la falta de humildad epistémica) conducen a creencias falsas, incluso irracionales. Finalmente, consideraré estrategias para lidiar con los vicios epistémicos de los estudiantes de una manera que evite las dificultades prácticas señaladas por Ian James Kidd en su “Charging Others with Epistemic Vice”.
Palabras Clave | Epistemología de la virtud · Vicios epistémicos · Humildad epistémicam · Creacionismo · Negacionismo de la ciencia.


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