When cognition turns vicious: Heuristics and biases in light of virtue epistemology: Heuristics and biases in light of virtue epistemology

Peter L. Samuelson, Ian M. Church

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this paper, we explore the literature on cognitive heuristics and biases in light of virtue epistemology, specifically highlighting the two major positions—agent-reliabilism and agent-responsibilism (or neo-Aristotelianism)—as they apply to dual systems theories of cognition and the role of motivation in biases. We investigate under which conditions heuristics and biases might be characterized as vicious and conclude that a certain kind of intellectual arrogance can be attributed to an inappropriate reliance on Type 1, or the improper function of Type 2, cognitive processes. By the same token, the proper intervention of Type 2 processes results in the virtuous functioning of our cognitive systems (agent-reliabilism). Moreover, the role of motivation in attenuating cognitive biases and the cultivation of certain epistemic habits (a search for accuracy, being accountable for one's judgments, the use of rules of analysis, and exposure to differing perspectives) points to the tenets of agent-responsibilism in epistemic virtue. We identify the proper use of Type 2 cognitive processes and the habits of mind that attenuate biases as demonstrations of the virtue of intellectual humility. We briefly explore the nature of these habits and the contribution of personality traits, situational pressures, and training in their cultivation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1113
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Volume28
Issue number8
Early online date3 Apr 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • heuristics and biases
  • intellectual arrogance
  • intellectual humility
  • virtue epistemology

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