Ah, jargon

Recently there’s been a debate in the political blogosphere about “epistemic closure.”  As far as I can tell, Julian Sanchez introduced the term here, in the following passage:

One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media…

And somehow this idea of epistemic closure among conservatives turned out to be really attention-grabbing.  Lefty bloggers like it, naturally.  Read Yglesias or Sullivan.  But there’s also right-leaning NYT columnist Ross Douthat lamenting his fellow conservatives’ epistemic closure; there’s conservative-ish Jim Manzi criticizing right-wing talk radio host Mark Levin’s epistemic closure; there’s arch-conservative Jonah Goldberg (of “Liberal Fascism” fame) grumpily announcing that “epistemic closure” has already jumped the shark; and — well, I haven’t even scratched the surface.  If you read mainstream political blogs, you’ve probably heard talk of epistemic closure.

The funny thing, though, is that the much older philosophical idea of epistemic closure has pretty much nothing to do with the sort of epistemic closure that all these bloggers are talking about.

Continue reading “Ah, jargon”

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