Find a list of Lani Watson's publications below.


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the right to know:
Epistemic rights and
why we need them
find out more and order

The Right To Know: Epistemic Rights And Why We Need Them. Forthcoming. London: Routledge. Publication date: 19 May 2021.

Synopsis: You have a right to know if the tumour your doctor has identified is benign or malignant. You have a right to know if your internet provider increases the monthly charges on your account. You have the right to be informed about the collection and use of your personal data, the right to believe or not believe in a god, and the right to remain silent in a court of law. These are all epistemic rights. This book provides a comprehensive and novel examination of the nature of epistemic rights and their manifestation in a wide variety of familiar settings, from the doctor’s surgery to the classroom to the tabloid press. Beginning with a rigorous but accessible account of epistemic rights, the investigation progresses through detailed studies of contemporary epistemic rights violations in four key areas: healthcare, education, the media, and the law. Each of these areas raises a distinct set of questions concerning the violation of epistemic rights, for individuals and groups, as well as for professional practice. What happens when a doctor lies to her patients about medications, medical procedures, test results, or health risks. What happens when a teacher misinforms his students about the evidence for a given view or wilfully ignores it in favour of inculcating his own opinions. What happens when lawyers deliberately mislead jurors or journalists intentionally report falsehoods. These questions all concern the nature and extent of epistemic rights violations in the twenty-first century, and the harms that such violations can cause. This book provides a first look at these issues through the lens of epistemic rights and suggests some ways in which individuals, industries, and institutions can seek to protect and promote the responsible exercise of epistemic rights.

Educating for Good Questioning as a Democratic Skill. 2019. In: (eds.) Fricker, M., Graham, P., Henderson, D. and Pedersen, N. The Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology. New York: Routledge, 437-446.

Abstract: In this paper I argue that we should rethink the dominant answer-oriented education model and educate for good questioning. I align the case in support of educating for good questioning with the democratic education movement, drawing additional support from the distinct but complementary argument for skills-based education. I present an account of the skill of good questioning and examine three distinct contributions that this skill makes to the successful functioning of democratic society, arguing that good questioning facilitates 1) understanding, 2) participation, and 3) decision-making. Good questioning is thereby conducive to both individual learning and societal cohesion and is a key component of intellectual character, without which learning is in danger of becoming passive and compliant. Good questioning serves the aims of democratic education and, correspondingly, of democracy itself. We should educate for good questioning in democratic society. Download the PDF here.

Educating for Inquisitiveness: A Case Against Exemplarism for Intellectual Character Education. 2019. Journal of Moral Education 48(3): 303-315.

Abstract: One natural application of Linda Zagzebski’s exemplarist moral theory (EMT) is found in the context of moral and intellectual character education. Zagzebski discusses this application in her recent book, commenting that ‘exemplars can serve as a guide for moral training’ (p. 129) and endorsing ‘the learning of virtue by imitation’ (p. 129). This theme has been pursued compellingly by authors working at the intersection of virtue ethics and education, contributing to an emerging case for exemplarist-based approaches to character education. I focus on intellectual character education and draw attention to an interesting case in which exemplarism in the classroom may be seen to inhibit, rather than promote, the development of intellectually virtuous character. This is the case of virtuous inquisitiveness. Download the PDF here.

Review of Exemplarist Moral Theory. Co-authored with Alan Wilson.  (2019). Journal of Moral Philosophy 16: 755-767.

Abstract: This review essay provides a critical discussion of Linda Zagzebski’s (2017) Exemplarist Moral Theory (EMT). We agree that EMT is a book of impressive scope that will be of interest to ethical theorists, as well as epistemologists, philosophers of language, and philosophers of religion. We argue that exemplarism faces a number of important challenges, firstly, in dealing with the fallibility of admiration, which plays a central role in the theoretical framework, and secondly, in serving as a practical guide for moral development. Despite this, we maintain that EMT points the way for significant future theoretical and empirical research into some of the most well-established questions in ethical theory.

Questioning the Questions. 2018. The Philosopher 107(1): 33-36.

Recently I was handed a small black card by a stranger in the street. It read: ‘SIMPLE QUESTION! Where will YOU spend eternity?’ The card also displayed a website and a QR code, presumably for those wishing to seek out an answer. I haven’t visited the website yet but the card did get me thinking. Read more…

What is a Question. 2018. The Philosopher’s Magazine 82.

What was the last question that you asked. Take a moment to recall. Perhaps it was in conversation with a friend or colleague. Perhaps to a stranger in a café or a shop. Maybe you conducted a search in Google or wondered to yourself which article in The Philosophers’ Magazine to read next. Can you recall precisely what you asked, who you asked, or how you asked it. Read more…

Systematic Epistemic Rights Violations in the Media: A Brexit Case Study. 2018. Social Epistemology, 32:2, 88-102.

Abstract: In this paper, I outline the nature of epistemic rights and epistemic rights violations (Sections I-III) and demonstrate the widespread perpetration of such violations in pre-Brexit media coverage (Section IV). This provides a case study for the investigation of epistemic rights violations across national and international media; a topic of central concern for contemporary epistemology (Section V). Download the PDF here.

Educating for Curiosity. 2018. In: (eds.) Inan, I., Watson, L., Whitcomb, D., and Yigit, S. The Moral Psychology of Curiosity. Rowman and Littlefield, 293-310.

Abstract: My aim, in this chapter, is to present a characterisation of the intellectual virtue of curiosity that offers some insight into educating for the virtue, and provides theoretically grounded motivations for doing so. I begin by outlining a characterisation of curiosity as an intellectual virtue. I then examine three key features of this characterisation relevant to the task of educating for curiosity as an intellectual virtue. Finally, I present, what I take to be two of the most compelling reasons to educate for the intellectual virtue of curiosity. Download the PDF here.

Curiosity and Inquisitiveness. 2018. In: (ed.) Battaly, H. The Routledge Handbook of Virtue Epistemology. New York: Routledge.

Abstract: This paper offers characterisations of the intellectual virtues of curiosity and inquisitiveness and discusses the distinction between them. I argue that curiosity and inquisitiveness should not be regarded as synonymous. Specifically, virtuous inquisitiveness emerges as a restricted form of virtuous curiosity: it is virtuous curiosity manifested as good questioning. This has implications, within applied virtue epistemology, for the ways in which we educate for these closely related, but distinct intellectual virtues. Download the PDF here.

Educating for Good Questioning: A Tool for Intellectual Virtues Education. 2018. Acta Analytica, 33(3): 353-370.

Abstract: In this paper, I present a central line of argument in support of educating for good questioning, namely, that it plays an important role in the formation of an individual’s intellectual character and can thereby serve as a valuable pedagogical tool for intellectual character education. I argue that good questioning plays two important roles in the cultivation of intellectual character: good questioning 1) stimulates intellectually virtuous inquiry and 2) contributes to the development of several of the individual intellectual virtues. Insofar as the cultivation of intellectually virtuous character is a desirable educational objective, we should educate for good questioning. Download the PDF here.

The Epistemology of Education. 2016. Philosophy Compass, 11(3): 146-159.

Abstract: The landscape of contemporary epistemology has significantly diversified in the past thirty years, shaped in large part by two complementary movements; virtue and social epistemology. This diversification provides an apt theoretical context for the epistemology of education. No longer concerned exclusively with the formal analysis of knowledge, epistemologists have turned their attention towards individuals as knowers, and the social contexts in which epistemic goods such as knowledge and understanding are acquired and exchanged. As such the concerns of epistemology have once again aligned with questions lying at the heart of the philosophy of education regarding the nature, aims and practice of education. Employing the conceptual tools and frameworks of the contemporary field, these questions are addressed by both epistemologists and education theorists in the emerging epistemology of education literature. Download the PDF here.

Why Should We Educate for Inquisitiveness. 2016. In: (ed.) Baehr, J. Intellectual Virtues and Education: Essays in Applied Virtue Epistemology. Routledge. 38-53.

Abstract: Inquisitiveness is a paradigm example of an intellectual virtue. Despite some extensive work on the characterisation of the intellectual virtues, however, (e.g. Roberts and Wood, 2007; Baehr 2011) no detailed treatment of the virtue of inquisitiveness has been forthcoming in the recent literature. This paper offers a characterisation of virtuous inquisitiveness considered within the framework of educating for intellectual virtue. It presents the case in support of educating for inquisitiveness arguing that it is a primary intellectual virtue to educate for. Download the PDF here.

What is Inquisitiveness. 2015. American Philosophical Quarterly, 52(3): 273-288.

Abstract: This paper offers an in-depth examination of the intellectual virtue of inquisitiveness. A characterisation of inquisitiveness is developed in Part I in which the inquisitive person is identified as one who is characteristically motivated to engage sincerely in good questioning. Part II examines the place of inquisitiveness among the virtues. Inquisitiveness is seen to bear a defining relationship to the process of inquiry as a fundamentally motivating intellectual virtue. On this basis, it is argued that inquisitiveness plays a distinctively valuable role in the intellectually virtuous life, placing it at the heart of autonomous virtue epistemology. Download the PDF here.