Prejudice, generics, and resistance to evidence

M. Giulia Napolitano*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In his book, Prejudice, Endre Begby offers a novel and engaging account of the epistemology of prejudice which challenges some of the standard assumptions that have so far guided the recent discussion on the topic. One of Begby's central arguments against the standard view of prejudice, according to which a prejudiced person necessarily displays an epistemically culpable resistance to counterevidence, is that, qua stereotype judgments, prejudices can be flexible and rationally maintained upon encountering many disconfirming instances. By expanding on Begby's analysis, I argue that, given the variety of truth conditions for true generic statements, the generic form of stereotype judgements can sometimes make prejudice extremely resistant to encounters with statistical facts about the distribution of the property among members of a certain group. At the same time, I argue that a more careful consideration of the generic form of stereotypes also allows us to recognize that evidence about how many members of the kind instantiate a property is not the only type of evidence which could disconfirm a prejudice. Evidence of no explanatory relation between a kind and a property should also have a direct effect on a prejudicial belief. For this reason, things may not look as dim for the standard view of prejudice in assessing paradigmatic instances of prejudicial beliefs as irrationally resistant to evidence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInquiry (United Kingdom)
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2023

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© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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