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College of Arts & Sciences
Jewish Studies Program

Andrew Pessin Lecture--"Epistemic Antisemitism: How Bias Can Corrode Epistemology"

Thursday, October 27, 2016 -
1:15pm to 2:45pm

Location: Russell House, Ballroom A, the University of South Carolina Columbia Campus

Andrew Pessin is Professor of Philosophy at Connecticut College and Campus Bureau Editor of The Algemeiner.

Author of numerous academic articles and books, a philosophy textbook, several philosophical books for the general reader, and one novel, his current research is focused on philosophical matters relevant both to Judaism and Israel. His 15 minutes of claim include appearing on the David Letterman show as "The Genius" and being the author of a controversial Facebook post at the center of a campus controversy in the spring of 2015. 

Abstract of Andrew's lecture:

Classic antisemitic beliefs (such as blood libels, or “Jews control the economy, etc.”) are unfortunately making a comeback on campuses, as evidenced by recent events at Vassar, Oberlin, Stanford and elsewhere. But in "Epistemic Antisemitism," I show that antisemitism can be manifest not merely in the content of such overtly antisemitic beliefs, but in the very cognitive processes that produce beliefs—including beliefs that, considered in isolation, are not obviously antisemitic. Because the processes that produce our beliefs are largely invisible to us, the beliefs thus produced may even seem, from within, to be perfectly well-founded and reasonable. An “epistemic antisemite,” then, is (roughly) one whose relevant beliefs are produced by antisemitic epistemic processes such as those I’ll sketch. When those beliefs cross the line into blatantly antisemitic content, it is only easier to detect them. That doesn’t make those beliefs that don’t cross the line any less antisemitic—just less blatant. One important consequence of this approach is that it may explain why so many well-meaning progressives can, even during their most absurdly unfair attacks on the Jewish state, convince themselves they are not antisemitic—because as far as they can tell their beliefs about Israel are perfectly reasonable.

For more information on his work, please visit


Co-Sponsored by the Columbia Jewish Community Center, Department of Philosophy, Department of Religious Studies, and the Jewish Studies Program


PDF icon Link for download of Pessin Tabloid Poster