Knower at Risk: Updating Epistemology in the Light of Enhanced Representations


cognitive enhancement
virtue epistemology
active externalism
extended cognitive system
epistemic agency



The epistemological consequences of the increasing popularity of artificial cognitive enhancements are still confined to the margins of philosophical exploration, with priority given instead to ethical problems requiring urgent practical solutions. In this paper, I examine the less popular, yet still important, problem of the threats to which the very knowledge-forming process is exposed when its subject uses artificial cognitive enhancers. The theory of knowledge I call upon is borrowed from virtue epistemologists who, together with proponents of active externalism, seek to define the conditions that will protect artificially enhanced agents from a loss of epistemic agency. I invoke three such conditions (authenticity, integration and reciprocal causation), rejecting the last one. Incorporating active externalism into virtue epistemology points to the possibility of treating extended systems, composed of humans and artifacts, as extended subjects of knowledge. In the final part, however, I present two arguments against such an extension of epistemic agency.



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