Class and Inequality: Why the Media Fails the Poor and Why This Matters (with Jan Kandiyali)
The news media is a critical source of information for the public. However, it neglects the interests of the poor. In this paper, we explore why this happens, why it matters, and what might be done about it. As to why this happens, we identify two main reasons: because of the way that media is funded and because of the composition of its journalists and its sources. As to why this matters, we argue that this neglect is problematic for three main reasons: it deprives the poor of vital information; it contributes to public support for or acceptance of policies that harm the interests of the poor; and it undermines political equality. And as to what might be done about it, we suggest two proposals: proposals that change the composition of who makes the news and proposals that change how the media is funded
Science, Trust and Justice: More Lessons from the Pandemic
Distributive Epistemic Justice in Science (with Gürol Irzık)
This article develops an account of distributive epistemic justice in the production of scientific knowledge. We identify four requirements: (a) science should produce the knowledge citizens need in order to reason about the common good, their individual good and pursuit thereof; (b) science should produce the knowledge those serving the public need to pursue justice effectively; (c) science should be organized in such a way that it does not aid the wilful manufacturing of ignorance; and (d) when making decisions about epistemic risks, scientists should make sure that there aren’t social groups or weighty interests that are neglected. After discussing these requirements, we examine the relationship between discriminatory and distributive epistemic injustice in science and argue that they often compound each other.
Irzik, G., & Kurtulmus, F. (forthcoming). 'Distributive Epistemic Justice in Science', The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
The Democratization of Science
The democratization of science entails the public having greater influence over science and that influence being shared more equally among members of the public. This chapter will present a thumbnail sketch of the arguments for the democratization of science based on the importance of collectively shaping science’s impact on society, the instrumental benefits of public participation in science, and the need to ensure that the use of science in politics does not undermine collective self-government. It will then outline worries about citizen competence, the abuse of democratic ideals and the limits posed by the nation-state.
Kurtulmus, F. (2021) ‘The Democratization of Science’, in Ludwig, D. et al. (eds) Global Epistemologies and Philosophies of Science. London: Routledge, pp. 145–154.
The Epistemic Basic Structure
The epistemic basic structure of a society consists of those institutions that have the greatest impact on individuals’ opportunity to obtain knowledge on questions they have an interest in as citizens, individuals, and public officials. It plays a central role in the production and dissemination of knowledge and in ensuring that people have the capability to assimilate this knowledge. It includes institutions of science and education, the media, search engines, libraries, museums, think tanks, and various government agencies. This article identifies two demands of justice that apply specifically to the institutions that belong to it. First, the epistemic basic structure should serve all citizens fairly and reliably. It should provide them with the opportunity to acquire knowledge they need for their deliberations about the common good, their individual good, and how to pursue them. Second, the epistemic basic structure should produce and disseminate the knowledge that various experts and public officials need to successfully pursue justice and citizens need to effectively exercise their rights. After arguing for these duties, I discuss what policies follow from them and respond to the worry that these duties have illiberal implications.
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Kurtulmus, F. (2020) ‘The Epistemic Basic Structure’, Journal of Applied Philosophy, 37(5), pp. 818–835.
What is Epistemic Public Trust in Science (with Gürol Irzık)
We provide an analysis of the public's having warranted epistemic trust in science, that is, the conditions under which the public may be said to have well-placed trust in the scientists as providers of information. We distinguish between basic and enhanced epistemic trust in science and provide necessary conditions for both. We then present the controversy regarding the (alleged) connection between autism and measles–mumps–rubella vaccination as a case study to illustrate our analysis. The realization of warranted epistemic public trust in science requires various societal conditions, which we briefly introduce in the concluding section.
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Irzik, G., & Kurtulmus, F. (2019). What Is Epistemic Public Trust in Science? The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 70(4), 1145–1166.
Justice in the Distribution of Knowledge (with Gürol Irzık)
In this article we develop an account of justice in the distribution of knowledge. We first argue that knowledge is a fundamental interest that grounds claims of justice due to its role in individuals’ deliberations about the common good, their personal good and the pursuit thereof. Second, we identify the epistemic basic structure of a society, namely, the institutions that determine individuals’ opportunities for acquiring knowledge and discuss what justice requires of them. Our main contention is that a systematic lack of opportunity to acquire knowledge one needs as an individual and a citizen because of the way the epistemic basic structure of a society is organized is an injustice. Finally, we discuss how our account relates to John Rawls's influential theory of justice.
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Kurtulmus, F., & Irzik, G. (2017). Justice in the Distribution of Knowledge. Episteme, 14(2), 129–146.
Dworkin’s Prudent Insurance Ideal: Two Revisions
This article offers two revisions to Dworkin's ‘prudent insurance ideal’, which aims to account for justice in the distribution of healthcare so that (a) it can deal with market failures in healthcare and (b) when applied to unjust societies it addresses health problems caused by injustice in a fair manner.
Kurtulmus, A. F. (2012). Dworkin’s prudent insurance ideal: Two revisions. Journal of Medical Ethics, 38(4), 243–246.
No Country for Honest Men: Political Philosophers and Real Politics (with Rob Jubb)
There are limits on the duty to tell the truth. Sometimes, because of the undesirable consequences of honesty, we are morally required not to reveal certain truths and can even be required to lie. In this article, we explore the implications of this uncontroversial claim for the practice of political philosophers. We argue that, given the consequences of misunderstandings and misrepresentations that might occur, political philosophers will sometimes be under a moral duty not to disseminate their research and, in highly exceptional cases, have a moral duty to lie outright.
Jubb, R., & Kurtulmus, A. F. (2012). No Country for Honest Men: Political Philosophers and Real Politics. Political Studies, 60(3), 539–556.
Uncertainty Behind the Veil of Ignorance
This article argues that the decision problem in the original position should be characterized as a decision problem under uncertainty even when it is assumed that the denizens of the original position know that they have an equal chance of ending up in any given individual's place. It supports this claim by arguing that (a) the continuity axiom of decision theory does not hold between all of the outcomes the denizens of the original position face and that (b) neither us nor the denizens of the original position can know the exact point at which discontinuity sets in, because the language we employ in comparing different outcomes is ineradicably vague. It is also argued that the account underlying (b) can help proponents of superiority in value theory defend their view against arguments offered by Norcross and Griffin.
Kurtulmus, A. F. (2012). Uncertainty behind the Veil of Ignorance. Utilitas, 24(01), 41–62.
Rawls and Cohen on Facts and Principles
G. A. Cohen has recently argued for a thesis about the relationship between facts and principles. He claims that Rawls denies this thesis, and the truth of this thesis vitiates Rawls’s constructivist procedure. I argue against both claims by developing an account of Rawls’s justificatory strategy and the role of facts in this strategy, which I claim is similar to the role of facts in some defences of utilitarianism.
Kurtulmus, A. F. (2009). Rawls and Cohen on Facts and Principles. Utilitas, 21(04), 489–505.