The KTS Annual Social and Applied Epistemology Lecture Series: Chris Ranalli

 Center for Knowledge, Technology & Society     Jan 26 2022 - Jan 28 2022 | 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Zoom

Join the Center for Knowledge, Technology & Society for our annual Social and Applied Epistemology Lecture Series. This year, we are delighted to welcome Chris Ranalli, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at VU Amsterdam.

RSVP for each below

Professor Ranali will give three lectures:

a graduate seminar on Wednesday, January 26th, 12-2pm PSTPolitical Hinge Disagreement (JOIN HERE)

a KTS lecture on Thursday, January 27th, 12-2pm PSTIntegrity and Open-mindedness (RSVP HERE)

and a departmental colloquium on Friday, January 28th, 12-2pm PSTPersonalism about the Ethics of Belief (RSVP HERE)

Professor Ranalli is part of the ERC Extreme Beliefs research group. He is currently working on topics like conspiracy theories, indoctrination, and echo chambers.

He is also a research affiliate within the DFG Thinking about Suspension network. He is exploring the relationship between suspension of judgment and our personal and ethical commitments.

His research is primarily in epistemology. He also has interests in ethics and philosophy of mind. 

See the abstracts for each lecture below: 


Political Hinge Disagreement (Graduate seminar, January 26)

According to what we can call ‘political hinge epistemology’, there are certain moral and political commitments which function as ‘hinges’ against which we evaluate political beliefs, arguments, projects, or policies as right or wrong; just or unjust; and justified or unjustified, among other kinds of normative evaluations. Several questions are relevant here: first, what makes some political commitments hinges and others not? Second: are political hinges universal or framework dependent? Third: are political hinges rationally or otherwise normatively evaluable? For example, can political hinges be rational or irrational, or right or wrong? I draw on cases of political disagreement, belief polarization, and ideology in order to answer these questions.


Integrity and Open-mindedness (KTS lecture, January 27)

Some disagreements press on commitments that are central to who we are or what we care most about. This raises a puzzle. One the one hand, we should be open-minded, and consider seriously these rival positions. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be unprincipled, willing to compromise ourselves for the sake of civility, for example. How can we be open-minded without risking who are, then? Likewise, how can we be true to ourselves without risking dogmatism and inflexibility? Some say that there is a virtuous mean between too much dogmatism and too little. I argue that the virtue of integrity can sometimes lead one to unshakeable belief without compromising one’s intellectual virtue. Whether one’s dogmatism is too much or too little depends on the case. In turn, I’ll explore three kinds of cases: the advocate, who is highly confident of their favored theoretical position; the fundamentalist, who is zealously confident of a religious or religious-like position; and the faithful, who is uncompromising in their commitment to a position because of its personal ‘meaning-making’ role in their life.

Personalism about the Ethics of Belief
 (Department colloquium, January 28)

What should the impact of theoretical reasons, such as those from philosophy or social psychology, be for our personal beliefs? It is a widely assumed that such reasons can be evidence which bears on what we rationally ought to believe. I argue, however, that we can sometimes permissibly ignore theoretical reasons. In particular, that the maintenance of many kinds of personal belief permits us to bracket theoretical reasons, or even outright ignore them. Call this Personalism. This paper sets out to explain and defend Personalism. Personalism is many things. It’s a kind of dogmatism, because it entails that the evidence one has can sometimes be properly ignored. Nevertheless, I argue that this type of dogmatism is not objectionable but praiseworthy. This contrasts with two broader types of objectionable dogmatism, evidential dogmatism, whereby it is permissible for one to ignore any type of counter-evidence, and myside dogmatism, whereby it permissible for one to ignore evidence which challenges one’s theoretical convictions. It is also a kind of pragmatism, because it entails that there can be non-epistemic reasons for keeping our beliefs. I explain why Personalism is a plausible via media between traditional Pragmatism and Evidentialism.