Scaffolding the Media
The motivating insight of this project, which is generously supported by a grant from the Templeton Foundation via the University of Connecticut, is that, to the extent that we rely on (social) media to enhance our knowledge of important events, people, institutions, and issues beyond our local communities, we are vulnerable to difficult-to-detect epistemic injustices committed by the media even when we make efforts to be intellectually humble. This insight prompts the proposal’s central questions:
1) Which communication topologies best foster intellectual humility in public discourse, and which most hinder it?
2) Where between these extremes do various prominent contemporary ICT communication topologies lie?
3) How can contemporary ICT communication topologies be modified – by users, regulators, and/or ICT firms – to improve IH in public discourse?
In this project, we investigate social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, 4chan, etc.) in which discussions, debates, and diatribes about controversial topics (vaccine safety, anthropogenic climate change, violence by and against Muslims, genetically modified organisms, etc.) take place.
Here, for instance, is a map of the retweet network that engages with the topic of vaccine safety:
The first paper associated with this project is titled "Virtues for Agents in Directed Social Networks." A draft is available here.
- Christen, M., Alfano, M., & Robinson, B. (forthcoming). A cross-cultural assessment of the semantic dimensions of intellectual humility. AI & Society.
- Alfano, M., Iurino, K., Stey, P., Robinson, B, Christen, M., Yu, F., & Lapsley, D. (forthcoming). Development and validation of a multi-dimensional measure of intellectual humility. PLoS ONE.
- Alfano, M. & Robinson, B. (forthcoming). Gossip as a burdened virtue. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice.
- Alfano, M., Huijts, N., & Roeser, S. (forthcoming). Trust and distrust in institutions and governance. In J. Simon (ed.), Handbook of Trust and Philosophy. Routledge.
- Alfano, M. (2017). The topology of communities of trust. Russian Sociological Review, 15(4): 30-56.
- Alfano, M. & Skorburg, A. (2017). Extended knowledge, the recognition heuristic, and epistemic injustice. In D. Pritchard, J. Kallestrup, O. Palermos, & J. A. Carter (eds.), Extended Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
- Alfano, M. & Skorburg, A. (2017). The embedded and extended character hypotheses. In J. Kiverstein (ed.), Handbook of Philosophy of the Social Mind. Routledge.
- Alfano, M. (2016). Friendship and the structure of trust. In A. Masala & J. Webber (eds.), From Personality to Virtue: Essays in the Psychology and Ethics of Character. Oxford University Press.
Our approach is based on a series of visualizations of intellectual humility and its opposites in the semantic analysis mentioned above: