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Essays in Philosophy

Volume 21, Issue 1/2, January/July 2020

Activism and Philosophy

Kyle York
Pages 46-75

The Philosopher as Moral Activist
A Call for Ethical Caution in Publication

It is normal to think that philosophers’ first dedication is to the truth. Publishers and writers consider ideas and papers according to criteria such as originality, eloquence, interestingness, soundness, and plausibility. I suggest that moral consequence should play a greater role in our choices to publish when serious harm is at stake. One’s credence in a particular idea should be weighed against the potential consequences of the publication of one’s ideas both if one turns out to be right and if one turns out to be wrong. This activist approach to philosophical writing combines moral concern with epistemic humility.

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