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Uncertainty phobia and epistemic forbearance in a pandemic

Shackel, Nicholas ORCID: 2022. Uncertainty phobia and epistemic forbearance in a pandemic. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 92 , pp. 271-291. 10.1017/S1358246122000248

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In this chapter I show how challenges to our ability to tame the uncertainty of a pandemic leaves us vulnerable to uncertainty phobia. This is because, contrary to what we might hope, not all the uncertainty that matters can be tamed by our knowledge of the relevant probabilities. Unrelievable wild uncertainty is a hard burden to bear, especially so when we must act in the face of it. We are tempted to retreat into uncertainty phobia, leading to fixed definite opinions precisely when acting on sound judgement requires our opinions to be hedged and mobile. Coping with a pandemic requires us to bear the burden rather than give in to temptation: it requires us to practise the virtue of epistemic forbearance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1358-2461
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 January 2022
Date of Acceptance: 13 December 2021
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2023 13:23

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