The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the tenth contribution in the series, submitted by Kathryn Pogin.
Ants and Women: A Reflection on Understanding
We live in an increasingly polarized society. According to survey data, between 2004 and 2014 ideological consistency in the American population seems to have doubled; that is, the share of the population who express uniformly liberal or conservative viewpoints regarding a range of issues shifted from about 10% of the population in 2004, to 21% in 2014. At the same time, hostility across ideological lines is increasing. In 2016, the Pew Research Center released a report containing this striking data point:
For the first time in surveys dating to 1992, majorities in both parties express not just unfavorable but very unfavorable views of the other party. And today, sizable shares of both Democrats and Republicans say the other party stirs feelings of not just frustration, but fear and anger. More than half of Democrats (55%) say the Republican Party makes them “afraid,” while 49% of Republicans say the same about the Democratic Party. Among those highly engaged in politics – those who say they vote regularly and either volunteer for or donate to campaigns – fully 70% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans say they are afraid of the other party.
Our sociological situation is epistemically concerning. In forming our beliefs, it can be difficult to be fair, to do one another justice — all the more so when you are not like me and in virtue of our dissimilarity it is more difficult for me to understand your needs, desires or interests. Fear, it seems, would compound these challenges. Our social context – including our political culture, our relationships to one another, our values, and our emotional attachments or hostilities – shapes our access to various epistemic resources.