Implicit bias: What are we missing?

October 11, 2023 - October 12, 2023
Munich School of Philosophy

Kaulbachstrasse 31/33
München 80539

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  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


Utrecht University
Florida International University


Munich School of Philosophy

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One widely shared assumption in the literature on implicit bias is that a certain kind of psychological state or process, an implicit attitude, is causally responsible for implicitly biased behaviors, decisions, feelings, and thoughts. Accordingly, two main research aims have been to (1) develop and improve ways to measure this implicit attitude, for example by means of the Implicit Association Test; and (2) to identify what kind of state implicit attitudes exactly are. Are they beliefs, associations, or idiosyncratic psychological states? Whether this picture is indeed the best way to understand and overcome implicit bias has received scant attention, and requires further reflection.

The aim of the current workshop is to critically reflect on philosophical assumptions underlying this picture of implicit bias, for example about the nature of action and the mind, and to discuss alternative perspectives and approaches to understanding and overcoming the problem of implicit bias. Contributions that explicitly support or criticize the aforementioned picture are welcome, but we are particularly interested in proposals that offer alternative perspectives on implicit bias, for example grounded in embodied, embedded, enactivist, and/or phenomenological approaches. Some of the questions the workshop aims to address are:

1.     What is the nature of implicitly biased behaviors (and decisions, feelings, and thoughts)? Could they be implicit in themselves, instead of in virtue of their causal explanation? And if so, in what sense?

2.     Are certain behaviors (and decisions, feelings, and thoughts) implicitly biased in virtue of the way the agent interacts with their environment? How can this be explained?

3.     Is implicit bias best understood as a characteristic of an individual, or is it better conceived of as a characteristic of a group, or perhaps of behaviors and decisions themselves?

4.     What role does the body play in implicit bias?

5.     What is the relationship between causal explanation of biased behavior (and decisions, feelings, and thoughts) and our norms and values?

6.     Does a dispositional account of implicit bias offer advantages over a representationalist account, and if so, why? Are there perhaps other approaches that haven’t been discussed in the literature?

This workshop is part of the research project “Implicit bias: What are we missing?”, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Keynote speakers:

-       Jan De Houwer (Ghent University)

-       Annemarie Kalis (Utrecht University)

-       Céline Leboeuf (Florida International University)

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September 1, 2023, 9:00am CET

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Munich School of Philosophy
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