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Anna Brinkerhoff (Concordia University)

Anna Brinkerhoff (Concordia University). « The Moral Virtue of Social Consciousness ». January 27th, Philosophy Department, Leacock 927, McGill University.


Social consciousness – which amounts to something like ‘being woke’ – is a cognitive sensitivity to social injustices in one’s local environment and broader culture. From here, social consciousness can be accounted for in a variety of ways. Recently, it’s been suggested that we can understand social consciousness through the lens of moral encroachment: to be social consciousness is to fulfill a moral duty to believe in accordance with the dictates of moral encroachment. After considering this account, I raise a few worries: it involves controversial theoretical commitments, entails unintuitive verdicts in important cases, and appears to be too demanding. In light of these worries, I develop a new account of social consciousness: social consciousness is a morally virtuous cognitive disposition that manifests primarily in certain doxastic states. I argue that the virtue account not only captures important intuitions about social consciousness, but also weathers the worries that trouble the encroachment account.