Research Seminar

Anandi Hattiangadi: Philosophical aspects of implicit bias

Date: 29 April 2015
Time: 10:00–12:00

Anandi Hattiangadi, Professor of Philosophy at Stockholm University.


Recent empirical work on implicit cognition has revealed that many of us display biases in behaviour which are unavailable to self report or introspection and which appear to be resistant to conscious control. Of particular interest are results which document widespread biases in behaviour on the basis of gender or ethnicity. For instance, identical CVs are given a more favourable evaluation when they are headed with a typical white, male name rather than with a typical muslim, african-american, or female name. An ambiguous object is more likely to be perceived to be a gun by subjects who first see a picture of a black man than by those who first see a picture of a white man. And people who believe themselves to have no preference between blacks and whites show a tendency to associate negative evaluative concepts with blacks and positive evaluative concepts with whites.

In this seminar, I will discuss some of the philosophical issues that are raised by these empirical findings. Are implicit biases in behaviour the result of unconscious beliefs or preferences? Or are they the product of associative constructs that are not involved in reasoning? What do these empirical results tell us about the possibility of self-knowledge? Do biases that influence what we perceive undermine knowledge on the basis of perception? Are we morally responsible for our implicit biases? What should we do when confronted with these empirical findings?

Hattiangadi specializes in the philosophy of mind and language, and has research interests in epistemology, metaphysics, meta-ethics and philosophy of science.

Read more about Anandi Hattiangadi


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