Explicit reasons, implicit stereotypes and the effortful control of the mind

Tillmann Vierkant, Rosa Hardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research in psychology clearly shows that implicit biases contribute significantly to our behaviour. What is less clear, however, is whether we are responsible for our implicit biases in the same way that we are responsible for our explicit beliefs. Neil Levy has argued recently that explicit beliefs are special with regard to the responsibility we have for them, because they unify the agent. In this paper we point out multiple ways in which implicit biases also unify the agent. We then examine Levy’s claim that the assertibility of explicit beliefs means that they have a unique way of unifying the agent by being available for syntactical operations. We accept that syntactical operations are important, but worry that they are less straightforwardly connected to the unification of agents than Levy claims.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-265
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number2
Early online date14 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • explicit reasons
  • moral responsibility
  • assertibility
  • control
  • mental actions
  • implicit biases

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