CFA: Beyond Polarization: Epistemic distortion and criticism

Submission deadline: July 16, 2023

Conference date(s):
November 8, 2023

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

SOF/Heyman Center, Columbia University
New York, United States

Topic areas


Beyond Polarization: Epistemic distortion and criticism

Individuals support forms of domination with varying levels of understanding that they are doing so. In many cases, those very structures of domination distort our conceptions of them through mechanisms such as motivated reasoning, implicit bias, affected ignorance, false consciousness, and belief polarization. These various epistemic distortions, in turn, cause social conflict, notably by promoting political polarization. Those worried by social conflict have spent a great deal of energy decrying the increasingly polarized contexts in which we live. However, epistemic distortions in our sociopolitical beliefs also misrepresent, maintain systems of domination and prevent human needs from being met. At this workshop, we will go beyond pronouncements such as ‘we are polarized’ or that ‘partisanship is on the rise’ and begin to think through epistemic distortions at the individual and intersubjective levels, the role of criticism and critique in facilitating belief and social change, and the idea of reconciliation by asking questions such as:

  • In what ways are individual beliefs about domination/social structures epistemically distorted? 
  • What explains why social beliefs are epistemically distorted? 
  • What are the normative upshots of epistemic distortion for social relationships like allyship, comradeship, and friendship? 
  • Ought polarization be remedied? Which epistemic resources and theoretical frameworks avail themselves of emancipatory potential?


Ege Yumuşak; Nicolas Côté

Invited speakers:

Sabina Vaccarino Bremner; Daniela Dover; Cain Shelley

We invite submissions on topics including: political relationships; alienation; belief change; social change; structural domination; ideology critique; the problem of deep disagreement; conflict resolution; trust and reliance; allyship; solidarity; interpersonal criticism; ignorance; propaganda; partisanship, & more.

Please send a 750-1000 word abstract prepared for blind review to Nicolas Côté at [email protected] or Ege Yumuşak at [email protected]. (Some financial assistance will be available for selected speakers.)

Key dates:

Submission deadline: July 16, 2023

Notification of acceptance: August 1, 2023 

Finalists will be invited to attend as commentators-at-large.

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