Why Are We So Divided?


After a bitter election, we urgently need more mutual understanding.

This post at Psychology Today uses the US election as hook to introduce ideas about strategic ignorance and social power (with reference to Charles W. Mills).  There are subsurface connections to my paper ‘Social Science as a Guide to Social Metaphysics’, forthcoming in Journal of General Philosophy of Science.



But I Didn’t Mean to Let You Down!

How trustworthiness requires good judgement as well as good intentions.  This post at Psychology Today explores the ways in which we can let other people down when we over-commit, or underestimate the difficulty of a task – this form of untrustworthiness stands alongside the more obvious forms involving dishonesty or intentional manipulation.  I briefly mention situations in which it is difficult for us to say ‘no’ to new commitments.

The post develops a theme which is obvious in philosophical work on trustworthiness in testimony (where competence is to the fore, alongside sincerity), but sometimes less obvious in philosophical work on trust in practical situations.

Who’s Keeping You Quiet?

Fear of people’s reactions can lead us to self-censor

This post at Psychology Today  picks up Kristie Dotson’s work on testimonial smothering as a form of silencing.  I have been using Dotson’s ideas as part of my book project on trustworthiness and competence, particularly in considering how we judge competence in others.  I also briefly discuss these ideas in a forthcoming chapter on trust, distrust and epistemic injustice, for the Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, edited by Ian James Kidd, José Medina, and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr.

Why Someone’s Disappointment Hurts More than Their Anger

Why is it so painful to hear ‘I’m disappointed in you’?

This post at Psychology Today was initially published as: ‘I’m Not Angry, I’m Just Disappointed’ (authors select initial titles and images, but these are sometimes edited).

This post was prompted by my research for a forthcoming chapter on trust, distrust and epistemic injustice.  For the chapter, idea was that we can harm people by extending either trust or distrust when neither is appropriate, but also that we can harm people by taking an overly-dispassionate attitude (neither trust nor distrust) when something more engaged would be appropriate.  (As I have argued elsewhere, these mistakes are easily overlooked when we focus on mistakenly trusting when distrust is due, or mistakenly distrusting when trust is due.)  For the post, I used Strawson on reactive attitudes to think about why sometimes engaged anger is more easily received than disengaged disappointment or disdain.  (Reading Darwall was also very helpful.)

On further reflection, I think there is much more to say about all this, perhaps via connections with objectification…maybe one day.

Feeling a Fraud? It’s Not Your Fault!

What if a toxic workplace environment is making you feel like an imposter?  Blogpost at Psychology Today.

This post is based on a talk I gave at LMU Munich in July 2016 (video here), questioning whether ‘imposter feelings’ are typically irrational in unsupportive social environments  This draws on my book manuscript about trustworthinesss and competence, in particular discussions of the value of accurate self-assessment. Useful sources include:

‘The Imposter Phenomenon’ by Jaruwan Sakulku and James Alexander, International Journal of Behavioral Science 6.1, 73-92 (2011).