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Why It's OK Not to Think for Yourself

Jonathan Matheson(Autor*in)
Routledge (Verlag)
Erschienen am 29. September 2023
252 Seiten
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978-1-000-92431-2 (ISBN)
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We tend to applaud those who think for themselves: the ever-curious student, for example, or the grownup who does their own research. Even as we're applauding, however, we ourselves often don't think for ourselves. This book argues that's completely OK.

In fact, it's often best just to take other folks' word for it, allowing them to do the hard work of gathering and evaluating the relevant evidence. In making this argument, philosopher Jonathan Matheson shows how 'expert testimony' and 'the wisdom of crowds' are tested and provides convincing ideas that make it rational to believe something simply because other people believe it. Matheson then takes on philosophy's best arguments against his thesis, including the idea that non-self-thinkers are free-riding on the work of others, Socrates' claim that 'the unexamined life isn't worth living,' and that outsourcing your intellectual labor makes you vulnerable to errors and manipulation. Matheson shows how these claims and others ultimately fail -- and that when it comes to thinking, we often need not be sheepish about being sheep.

Key Features

Discusses the idea of not thinking for yourself in the context of contemporary issues like climate change and vaccinations
Engages in numerous contemporary debates in social epistemology
Examines what can be valuable about thinking for yourself and argues that these are insufficient to require you to do so
Outlines the key, practical takeaways from the argument in an epilogue
Taylor & Francis Ltd
Für höhere Schule und Studium
978-1-000-92431-2 (9781000924312)
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Jonathan Matheson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Florida. His research interests are in epistemology, with a focus on issues concerning disagreement and epistemic autonomy. He has authored The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement (2015) and co-edited The Ethics of Belief: Individual and Social (2014) with Rico Vitz and Epistemic Autonomy (2021) with Kirk Lougheed.
Chapter 1 Introduction

Keeping your House in Order

What is Thinking for Yourself?

Clarifying the Central Conclusion

Looking Ahead

Chapter 2 Believing (Just) Because Others Believe: Epistemic Surrogates

From Individual to Social Epistemology

Believing the Experts & Epistemic Surrogacy

The Wisdom of Crowds

The Upshot

Chapter 3 The Argument from Expertise

Motivating the Argument

Applying the Argument

An Initial Worry: Identifying the Experts

The Upshot

Chapter 4 The Argument from Evidential Swamping

Motivating the Argument

Applying the Argument

The Upshot

Chapter 5 The Autonomy Objection

Motivating the Objection

The Myth of Intellectual Individualism

Autonomy as Intellectual Freedom

Autonomy as Intellectual Virtue


Chapter 6 The Free-Rider Objection

Motivating the Objection

The Cognitive Division of Labor

Epistemic Trespassing

The Wisdom of Crowds Again


Chapter 7 The Socratic Objection

Motivating the Objection

Normative Questions

No Relevant Experts

The Importance of Getting it Right

Moral Virtue

In Favor of Socratic Deference


Chapter 8 The Vulnerability Objection

Motivating the Objection

The Inevitability of Vulnerability

Vulnerability and Checks & Balances

The Importance of Institutions


Chapter 9 The Understanding Objection

Motivating the Objection

Understanding Without Thinking for Yourself

Setting the Scope

Epistemic Satisficing


Chapter 10 The Intellectual Virtue Objection

Motivating the Objection

Cultivating Intellectual Character Through Deference

Cartesian Epistemology & Social Epistemology

Social Intellectual Virtues


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