Epistemic stances

When it comes to making claims, about reality or anything else really, a number of different stances might be adopted by the speaker:

  • Objectivity: the claims have a correspondence to reality; they are typically embedded in a framework by which their validity is affirmed. For example, the scientific method posits mechanisms that mitigate errors common to human perception and therefore affirms its aspiration towards objectivity. Problems of this stance include the fact that the sort of claims one makes, and the questions one asks, are personally or socially influenced without such methodological bracing. Also, the appearance of objective methodologies can be easily mimicked.
  • Neutral: the claims are satisfactory, or at least mutually unsatisfactory, to the claims’ constituencies. For example, when the press represents an issue by first finding the two extremes of the argument, they have atleast not favored one of those extremes. Problems of this stance include that the constituencies may have not be accurately represented, both with respect to their positions and relative numbers.
  • Transparent bias: no pretense to objectivity, nor in accommodating various constituencies, but plainly representing the speaker’s bias. For example, the blogger who simply writes what they think. Problems of this stance include that this stance is often misperceived as one of the other two, and that it includes no inclination towards finding common ground with others.

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