SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Modeling epistemic violence: How testimonial quieting and smothering undermine collective inquiry
(Epistemology, English)

In her 2011 article "Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing.", Kristie Dotson identifies two forms of epistemic violence, namely testimonial quieting and testimonial smothering. While clearly directly harmful to those subjected to them, this talk argues that in addition, they threaten epistemic harms for the whole epistemic community. It employs an agent-based model to simulate (the interplay of) both forms of violence, and their effects on collective inquiry, concluding that the presence of epistemic violence can substantially hinder the convergence of an epistemic community to the truth about questions examined.

The model features social groups of agents with different epistemic standpoints towards a proposition. These agents are repeatedly sorted into communication games, each of which has three rounds:

1. Assessing the group identity of other participants and the resulting likelihood of facing testimonial quieting.

2. Giving testimony on the central proposition, either by uttering their true beliefs, or by succumbing to testimonial smothering (depending on 1.).

3. Updating their beliefs based on input by other agents, possibly committing testimonial quieting against others.

Depending on the settings chosen for a given simulation, epistemic violence slows down collective inquiry, or even stops it entirely. As minority agents are disproportionately often quietened and hence forced to succumb to smothering, the violence heavily distorts (their testimony in) communication.

Chair: Nikolai Shurakov
Time: 10:00-10:30, 08 September 2022 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.003

Leon Schöppl 
(MCMP, LMU Munich, Germany)

Testability and Meaning deco