Shedding Light on Keeping People in the Dark
Topics in Cognitive Science, DOI/10.1111/tops.12361, Forthcoming
32 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2019
Date Written: May 11, 2018
We want to keep hackers in the dark about our passwords and our credit card numbers. We want to keep potential eavesdroppers in the dark about our private communications with friends and business associates. This need for secrecy raises important questions in epistemology (how do we do it?) and in ethics (should we do it?). In order to answer these questions, it would be useful to have a good understanding of the concept of keeping someone in the dark. Several philosophers (e.g., Bok 1983, Scheppele 1988, Mahon 2009, Carson 2010) have analyzed this concept (or, equivalently, the concept of keeping secrets) in terms of concealing and/or withholding information. However, their analyses incorrectly exclude clear instances of keeping someone in the dark. And more importantly, they incorrectly focus on possible means of keeping someone in the dark rather than on what it is to keep someone in the dark. In this paper, I argue that you keep X in the dark about a proposition P if and only if you intentionally cause X not to have a true belief that P. In addition, I show how this analysis of keeping someone in the dark can be extended from a categorical belief model of epistemic states to a credence (or degree of belief) model.
Keywords: Concealing Information, Conceptual Analysis, Credences, Deception, Epistemic Goals, Secrecy, Withholding Information
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