Philosophy Seminar: Quassim Cassam (Warwick)

Quassim Cassam (Warwick) 'The Epistemology of Bullshit'

Abstract: One way to make sense of recent political events is to reflect on the role of epistemic insouciance in political debate. Insouciance in the ordinary sense is a casual lack of concern, carelessness or indifference. Epistemic insouciance is casual lack of concern or carelessness about the facts, an indifference to whether one's statements have any basis in reality. It implies an excessively nonchalant attitude towards the challenge of finding answers to complex questions, partly as a result of a tendency to view such questions less complex than they really are. Epistemic insouciance means not giving a shit, and its main product is bullshit in Harry Frankfurt's sense. In this talk I'll will give an account of epistemic insouciance and show why and in what sense it is an epistemic vice. Recent discussion has focused on epistemic vices that are character traits but epistemic insouciance is primarily an attitude. Specifically, it is a harmful epistemic posture or orientation. I'll distinguish between epistemic insouciance and epistemic malevolence and, more generally, between epistemic postures and epistemic stances. I'll suggest that epistemic vices come in both varieties and that many epistemic vices that aren't attitudes can only be understood by reference to epistemic vices that are.

Location details 

Baines Wing (G. 36)