Philosophy Department Colloquium: James Weatherall & Cailin O’Connor (UC Irvine)

Event Date: 

Friday, April 22, 2022 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • South Hall 5617
Why do Groups Polarize over Matters of Fact? What Models Can and Cannot Tell Us
Abstract: One striking feature of the current political environment in the United States and elsewhere is that there are large groups with divergent beliefs about matters of fact, including ones where there is a rich and widely accessible body of scientific evidence available that clearly favors one side. This talk will draw on recent modeling work to provide three distinct possible explanations of this polarization in belief, each of which invokes different mechanisms and recommends different remedies. I will conclude with a discussion of what it means, from the perspective of the epistemology of model-based science, that such different models can produce such similar outcomes. The moral will be to caution against overly simplistic explanations of and silver bullet solutions to our current quandary in political epistemology.