Improving knowledge acquisition and dissemination through technological interventions on cognitive biases

Sophie Stammers

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Much of the philosophical debate regarding technological epistemic enhancement concerns interventions on cognitive capacities that are already performing well in order that they perform even better. However, several decades of research in cognitive science demonstrates that humans harbor systematic cognitive biases that can produce ill‐grounded, distorted, or otherwise epistemically faulty cognitions. Such cognitions can be stubborn and so may be good candidates for reduction or elimination through technological intervention. In this article, Sophie Stammers demonstrates that we can take two approaches in such an endeavor: interventions that halt and redirect the general processes that can generate biased cognitions; and targeted interventions that aim to extinguish or overwrite individual biased cognitions. Stammers argues that, because the general processes that produce biased cognitions also regularly produce accurate cognitions, an intervention that halts these processes altogether will have the result that the person undergoing the intervention will find it difficult to form new beliefs and acquire further knowledge, an epistemically undesirable outcome. Targeted interventions are therefore preferable because they enable us to eliminate some biases, while leaving otherwise useful processes (such as heuristics) intact. She concludes by demonstrating that our epistemic goals will be best achieved when targeted technological interventions are supplemented by attention to relevant structural features.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-692
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Theory
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2019


  • cognitive bias
  • cognitive enhancement
  • education
  • enhancement
  • implicit bias
  • knowledge aquisition


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