Improving misrepresentations amid unwavering misrepresenters

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In recruitment, promotion, admission, and other forms of wealth and power apportion, an evaluator typically ranks a set of candidates in terms of their competence. If the evaluator is prejudiced, the resulting ranking will misrepresent the candidates’ actual rankings. This constitutes not only a moral and a practical problem, but also an epistemological one, which begs the question of what we should do—epistemologically—to mitigate it. In a recent paper, Jönsson and Sjödahl in [Episteme 14(4):499–517, 2017], argue that the epistemic problem can be fruitfully addressed by way of a novel statistical method that changes the products of biased behaviour, i.e. the rankings themselves, rather than the biased persons. Jönsson and Sjödahl’s pioneering proposal is a both a welcome addition to the literature on implicit bias, due the problems with existing implicit bias interventions [see e.g. Lai et al. in J Exp Psychol Gen 143:1765–1785; J Exp Psychol Gen 145(8):1001–1016, 2014; 2016; Forscher et al. in J Person Soc Psychol 117(3):522–559, 2019] but also to the literature on prejudice more generally, where many proposed prejudice-reduction strategies enjoy less than adequate empirical support [Paluck and Green in Ann Rev Psychol 60(1):339–367, 2009]. Their proposal, however, needs supplementation in two ways: the circumstances that must hold in order for it to work needs to be refined, and their claim that it works as intended in these circumstances needs to be validated. We argue that four of Jönsson and Sjödahl’s method’s presumed presuppositions can be weakened, but needs to be supplemented by two additional assumptions, overlooked by Jönsson and Sjödahl. Moreover, we demonstrate that the method does work as intended by way of a statistical simulation.

StatusPublished - 2022

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