CANCELLED!!! FILO, Module 4: Research Subject - Theoretical Philosophy: Disagreement, Dissent and Diversity in Democratic Deliberation - Foundational topics in Political Epistemology

Course content

As is all too familiar, public discourse is marred by disagreement, polarization and skepticism, including skepticism about science and doubts about the proper role in democratic decision making. Obviously, philosophers have been interested in these problems for some time, and this has led to work on a range of topics in social epistemology and the subfield that is now called political epistemology. The course will introduce and discuss foundational questions in social epistemology and political epistemology relevant for understanding the challenges in public discourse. The topics covered will be: (1) the epistemic significance of various forms of public disagreement (Christensen, Kelly, and many others), (2) intellectual arrogance, dogmatism, or lack of intellectual humility, which many relate to polarization and confrontation in public discourse might be due to (Tanesini, Lynch, Battaly and others), (3) dissent and diversity – at least going back to J.S Mill, it has been argued that dissent and diversity in public discourse is of paramount importance, which raise a question about the nature of dissent and diversity that matters epistemically, and the limits to reasonable dissent (Anderson, Sunstein and many others), (4) epistemic injustice and epistemic violence - public discourse may in various ways treat knowers or testifiers wrongly, which has recently been conceptualized as epistemic injustice and epistemic violence (Fricker, McKinnon, Dotson, Mills and others). (5) Finally, recent empirical work in cognitive psychology has documented important mechanisms that are likely to drive at least some of the pathologies of public discourse. We humans are strongly inclined to use our cognition to sustain factual beliefs that support our identities and to defend against information that is perceived as a threat, lading us to biased information processing, causing us to reject facts and evidence, and leading us to accept inflated assessments of risks. This is now called identity-protective cognition or cultural cognition, and has been researched by Kahan, Sperber, Mercier, and many others. In the final part of the course, will study some of these findings, and discuss their wider philosophical implications.


The course will introduce the 5 topics through a selection of texts by contemporary philosophers. The seminars will be a combination of presenting the main arguments of the texts and discussions of interpretations and implications in class. This will prepare students to write an essay discussing one of the topics in depth. The course will also support and guide essay-writing.



Kandidatuddannelsen i Filosofi 2017-ordning 

Learning outcome

Filosofi 2017 KA 

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 148,75
  • English
  • 204,75