SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programm - Vortrag

Invariantist Account of Epistemic Gaslighting
(Epistemology, Englisch)

Debates over context-sensitivity of knowledge resulted in the formation of two camps - contextualists and invariantists. Contextualists do not see any contradiction between "I know that p" in low stakes and "I don't know that p" in high stakes settings. Invariantists try to find an explanation that would have truth conditions for the knowledge claim fixed. In particular, moderate invariantists are united over the idea that high stakes ignorance is inaccurate. The adaptive invariantism of Nagel(2010) introduces the notion of 'epistemic anxiety'. Nagel argues that a subject experiencing epistemic anxiety in a high-stakes situation needs more evidence to form an outright belief that can result in knowledge. In this way, epistemic anxiety prevents the subject from knowing that p even if (s)he has some evidence and even if (s)he would say the opposite in a situation with lower stakes.

I will provide an explanation of gaslighting that employs such an invariantist position. Podosky(2021) considers gaslighting "a form of psychological manipulation, the effect of which induces doubt in a target's understanding of reality". This broad definition is tolerant of various forms of gaslighting identified by other researchers: manipulative, collective, structural, self-gaslighting etc. Stark (2019), Pohlhaus (2020) address epistemic gaslighting. I will also limit my considerations to epistemic gaslighting that will be understood as 'to be disregarded as a knower'. Using Nagel's terminology, I argue that in cases of epistemic gaslighting, a victim may experience epistemic anxiety that is caused by the lack of power that the abuser possesses. If so, the victim struggles even in forming an outright belief that (s)he may use in the future to report about the situation. This explains why some victims think that they perhaps reacted too emotionally or it happened not as their evidence suggests. Thus, I conclude that Nagel's terminology adequately captures epistemic gaslighting and suggests how it can be investigated further.

Zeit: 17:30-18:00, 07. September 2022 (Mittwoch)
Ort: SR 1.003

Nikolai Shurakov
(University of Tartu, Estland)

Testability and Meaning deco