Seeing through the mist.

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on

Epistemic duty is a term used by Philosophers to describe the responsibility we have to ensure that our actions and beliefs are examined to our own scrutiny and grounded in truth. An academic term for something we would hope would be routine, but clearly isn’t. One look at the morning papers and social media streams shows why.

One of our less endearing qualities as humans is that we manufacture weakness in others to further our own ends. It is true of all areas of activity, and often encoded in marketing – creating wants where no need really exists, and in politics, creating fears where no threat really exists. We are all capable of seeing through the mist. It takes effort, and often courage to go against the grain of the mob and often the conventions of the workplace. Deceit is, after all, highly profitable for a few.

The pandemic has catalysed an accelerated reorientation of the workplace. It was happening anyway, as the industrial era fades, and a new era driven by technology and constrained by the realities of finite resources and collapsing ecosystems takes us something not yet clear. It is likely to be something better than we have now, although it requires a real change in our habits, and success is far from guaranteed. After all, if we choose to continue to abuse the planet, when we know that we know the likely consequences, the planet will ensure that out short tenure here ends. It’s how nature works.

Back to epistemic duty. We are the most intelligent species on the planet, with a unique intelligence. Not least is our ability to reflect on our own actions, and imagine a future. If we let others manufacture truths that suit them and accept it uncritically, we will deserve what we get. we do, after all have the data, and the critical facilties to assess it. It’s native to us, not a function of education.

Bullshit is, after all, bullshit – whatever our qualifications and we can all detect it. Just ask, “in whose interest am I being told this?”

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