Intellectual Vices as Implicit Attitudes

8 September, 2022

Besedin A.
Epistemology & Philosophy of Science 2022, vol. 59, no. 3, pp. 116–133

The article analyzes an important concept of contemporary virtue epistemology – the concept of intellectual vice, that is a trait of intellectual character that hinders responsible research. The purpose of this article is to formulate a hypothesis that, today, in the modern culture, a significant part of epistemic vices are implicit attitudes. The first part of the article explores the concept of implicit attitude, examines examples of implicit attitudes that have become widespread in the research literature: implicit sexism and racism. The second part of the article shows that in cases of implicitly biased behavior there is a manifestation of epistemic vice, and that the “motivational” theory based on Zagzebski’s ideas cannot explain the manifestation of intellectual vice in cases of implicit bias. In the third section of the article, it is demonstrated that implicit attitudes can be traits of the agent’s character (like moral vices that are not recognized by the subject herself): they can be acquired, rooted in the personality, and can be corrected. The fourth paragraph of the article analyses the conditions under which intellectual vices can be explicit attitudes. It is possible if the agent is a diabolical being (guided by evil as a goal), has egoistic vices (applies different criteria of vice to himself and to others), or is irrational. In the final section, it is shown that the spread of critical thinking in modern society should lead to the transition of intellectual vices from explicit attitudes to implicit ones. The conclusion is made about the theoretical and practical significance of the hypothesis under discussion. From a theoretical point of view, it allows us to explain why intellectual vices are widespread and difficult to eradicate, to place vices as character traits between the local (situational) and global levels, to apply to the concept of epistemic vice all the research concerning implicit attitudes, to develop a theory of epistemic responsibility. In practical terms, this hypothesis can be used to analyze the manifestations of implicit vices in various spheres.