The Epistemic-Moral Dilemma in Racialized Societies

Joshua Mugg (Park University)

Abstract: Because race plays important sociological roles in our society, failing to attend to race seems epistemically irrational. However, there is empirical evidence that doing so opens one up to implicit bias, which is likely partly responsible for the perpetuation of racial inequalities. Thus, we seem to face a dilemma: encode race and sustain racial inequalities or be epistemically irrational by failing to encode racial information. In this paper, I consider and reject three attempted solutions to this dilemma. I then consider the dilemma from a virtue theoretic perspective. I argue that although virtue theory does not solve the dilemma, it can give it a fruitful analysis, and that thinking about the dilemma has two important implications for virtue theory.