Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Philosophy

Advisor

Linda Alcoff

Committee Members

Miranda Fricker

Sanford Goldberg

Charles Mills

Subject Categories

Epistemology

Keywords

Race, White Ignorance, Racial Prejudice, Veritism

Abstract

According to a (Jones and Saad) 2016 Gallup poll 69% of US whites and 32% of US blacks believe that blacks and whites have equal opportunity in the US job market. Much ink has been spilt showing that this belief is false (Alcoff 2015; Anderson 2010; Bertrand and Mullainathan 2003; Fricker 2007; McConahay 1983; Mills 1997; Mills 2007; Stanley 2015). But if its falsity is well publicized, then why do so many people persist in believing this falsehood? In this dissertation, I argue that racial injustice and whites’ current dominant-group status explains why such a high percentage of people in the US hold this false belief.

The bulk of my dissertation argues that this falsehood persists for five reasons, all which are due to racial injustice itself. Racial injustice can cause people to hold false beliefs because (1) racial injustice makes news sources less coverage reliable on topics that challenge white’s dominant-group status, (2) racial injustice makes black and Latino expression styles seem less credible, (3) racial injustice makes facts about racial oppression less likely learned by all society members, (4) racial injustice interacts with subjects’ cognitive architecture such that they are likely to hold false beliefs that are in tension with knowledge they already have and (5) racial injustice interacts with capitalism to undermine non-dominant racial groups’ hermeneutical or interpretative resources.

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