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Consistency & Belief

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While I was required to take Epistemology in graduate school, I was not particularly interested in the study of knowledge until I started teaching it. While remaining professionally neutral in the classroom, I now include a section on the ethics of belief in my epistemology class and discuss, in general terms, such things as tribal epistemology. Outside of the classroom I am free to discuss my own views on epistemology in the context of politics and it is a fascinating subject. My younger self from graduate school would be surprised at the words “epistemology” and “fascinating” used together in the same sentence. But here we are to discuss epistemology and Trump supporters. While COVID-19 is a nightmare for the world, the professed beliefs of Trump supporters about the pandemic provide an excellent case study in belief. As anyone familiar with these beliefs knows, they form a strange set of inconsistent and even contradictory claims. I am not claiming that every Trump supporter believes all these claims and I am not claiming that only Trump supporters believe them; but these are all claims professed by those who support Trump. At the start of the pandemic Trump placed the blame on China and still refers to the virus as “the China virus.” His supporters generally accept this view. The role of China varies depending on which explanation is offered. Some make the true claim that it originated in China. Others make the unsupported claim that it escaped (or was released intentionally) from a lab. On this view, the virus is generally presented as something bad. After all, it makes no sense to blame China unless the virus is a significant problem. There are also various other conspiracy theories about the pandemic—one infamous theory is that the pandemic is real—but caused by 5G. This would be inconsistent with the China virus theory; but one could preserve the China link by claiming that 5G originated in China. Trump has also advanced the idea that the pandemic does not. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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