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about me

I'm a doctoral candidate in Philosophy at University of Southern California, dissertating under the supervision of Mark Schroeder.
 

My dissertation explores the concepts of doxastic courage and cowardice – that is, how forming (or omitting to form) beliefs can be a kind of moral virtue or vice – and their relationship to doxastic anxiety and political conflict. It is a project in epistemology, social and political philosophy, virtue theory, and the ethics of belief. But whereas most recent work on the ethics of belief focuses on the wrongs of positive belief, my virtue-theoretic approach highlights how lack of belief can wrong. Contrary to many moral and political exhortations, there is such a thing as being too open-minded. Cultivating too general a disposition to epistemic humility, rather than being politically virtuous, can make us us doxastic cowards.   

Aside from my dissertation, I have projects in philosophy language, metaethics, and aesthetics. I am particularly interested in how social and evaluative language, especially figurative language works – semantically, pragmatically politically.  In this vein, I also work on the semantics of slurs and their relationship to other derogatory and nonderogatory evaluative expressions, as well as aesthetic terms and the prospects for aesthetic expressivism.

jenniferfoster dot phil at gmail dot com 

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featured &
forthcoming

FORTHCOMING
“Busting the Ghost of Neutral Counterparts"
Ergo: An Open-Access Philosophy Journal

FORTHCOMING
“Defining Moral Realism”
with Mark Schroeder
Oxford Handbook on Moral Realism, OUP

FEATURED | PHILOSOPHY TUBE
"Doxastic Anxiety and Doxastic Courage" in "Innocence and Censorship", Philosophy Tube

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upcoming
presentations

13

FEB

2023

Doxastic Anxiety & Doxastic Courage: When It's Scary (Not) To Believe

Lingnan University
Hong Kong

In this chapter of my dissertation, I defend the application of ordinary, virtue-theoretic notions of courage and cowardice to belief formation and suspension. Characteristically, courage involves (a) defying fear or anxiety for (b) the sake of a moral good. (Cowardice, by contrast, involves capitulating to fear or anxiety in spite of a moral good.) So, to argue that there is a distinctive kind of doxastic courage, I draw first on the work of psychologist Arie Kruglanski to show (A): that there is a kind of fear or anxiety which is related to belief formation; and that this fear or anxiety is something which we can plausibly defy (or capitulate to). I call this doxastic anxiety. I then show (B): that whether we defy (or capitulate to) doxastic anxiety is, in at least some cases, apt for normative appraisal; and that the nature and upshot of this appraisal is, in at least some cases, intuitively moral.

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recent talks
 

Doxastic Courage vs. Epistemic Humility: Too Much of a Good Thing (Invited)

Epistemic Courage Workshop 

University of British Columbia

Vancouver, Canada

3

DEC

2022

Comments on Shmuel Gomes’s “Moral Standing Beyond Consciousness: The Case for the Moral Standing of Insentient Entities” 

Vancouver Summer Philosophy Conference

University of British Columbia

Vancouver, Canada

27

JULY

2022

Normative Inference Tickets (Symposium)
with Jonathan Ichikawa (UBC)

American Philosophical Association
Central Division

Chicago, Illinois

22

FEB

2022

Normative Inference Tickets (Invited)
with Jonathan Ichikawa (UBC)

UCONN Philosophy Colloquium Series

University of Connecticut (Online)

28

JAN

2022

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