Michael Brownstein plans to spend his fellowship year starting a book on “epistemic tribalism,” the tendency people have to form their political beliefs by considering what their peers and friends believe. For example, when taking a position on what to do about climate change, political leaders and their constituents often evaluate whether a policy coheres with their own group’s goals and values instead of whether the policy is backed by solid evidence. The project has three parts: (1) why (and when) are we disposed to think tribally in politics? (2) what do historical examples of efforts to “detribalize” politics demonstrate? (3) what are the most effective techniques for combating epistemic tribalism today?
Brownstein’s research specialization is in the philosophy of psychology and cognitive science, with a focus on moral psychology and the intersection of science and ethics. In addition to work on topics such as skill, spontaneity, and self-control, Brownstein has published on a range of issues related to implicit bias. He recently published a monograph, The Implicit Mind: Cognitive Architecture, the Self, and Ethics (Oxford, 2018), and previously co-edited a two volume series, Implicit Bias and Philosophy (Oxford, 2016). He has held fellowships at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Council of Learned Societies.
Brownstein is associate professor of philosophy at John Jay College/CUNY. Having attended Deep Springs College and Columbia University, Brownstein received his PhD from Penn State in 2009. In 2019-20, Brownstein is an ACLS Burkhardt Fellow at CASBS in 2019-20.
Learn more about his work at www.michaelsbrownstein.com