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Philosophical Topics

Volume 46, Issue 1, Spring 2018

Can Beliefs Be Wrong?

Kristie Dotson
Pages 129-154
DOI: 10.5840/philtopics20184618

Accumulating Epistemic Power
A Problem with Epistemology

On December 3, 2014, in a piece entitled “White America’s Scary Delusion: Why Its Sense of Black Humanity Is So Skewed,” Brittney Cooper criticizes attempts to deem Black rage at state-sanctioned violence against Black people “unreasonable.” In this paper, I outline a problem with epistemology that Cooper highlights in order to explore whether beliefs can wrong. My overall claim is there are difficult-to-defeat arguments concerning the “legitimacy” of police slayings against Black people that are indicative of problems with epistemology because of the epistemic power they accumulate toward resilient oblivion, which can have the effect of normalizing oppressive conditions. That is to say, if one takes the value of lessening oppression as a key feature of normative, epistemological conduct, then it can generate demands on epistemological orientations that, in turn, generate wrongs for beliefs and, more specifically, beliefs as wrongs.