, Volume 191, Issue 11, pp 2529–2547 | Cite as

False polarization: debiasing as applied social epistemology

  • Tim Kenyon


False polarization (FP) is an interpersonal bias on judgement, the effect of which is to lead people in contexts of disagreement to overestimate the differences between their respective views. I propose to treat FP as a problem of applied social epistemology—a barrier to reliable belief-formation in certain social domains—and to ask how best one may debias for FP. This inquiry leads more generally into questions about effective debiasing strategies; on this front, considerable empirical evidence suggests that intuitively attractive strategies for debiasing are not very effective, while more effective strategies are neither intuitive nor likely to be easily implemented. The supports for more effective debiasing seem either to be inherently social and cooperative, or at least to presuppose social efforts to create physical or decision-making infrastructure for mitigating bias. The upshot, I argue, is that becoming a less biased epistemic agent is a thoroughly socialized project.


Social epistemology Bias Debiasing False polarization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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