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In their lecture, Dr. Kukla argues that maps, taken as epistemic tools, present a number of distinctive epistemic risks, and that no set of representational conventions or epistemic standards can eliminate these risks. There is no such thing as an objective or value-free map; rather, the production of any map is governed by a variety of value-driven choices. While the value-ladenness of scientific reasoning is familiar to philosophers of science from the literature on inductive risk, visual representations of data such as maps pose distinctive, ineliminable epistemic risks. Three of these are aesthetic risk, categorization risk, and simplification risk. With respect to each, maps that are accurate according to recognizable representational conventions not only fail to avoid these risks but may even present heightened risk. Unconventional maps that make their distinctive, value-laden perspective clear may offer special epistemic benefits.

Quill Kukla is a Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar in Kennedy Institute of Ethics at  Georgetown University. They are also the Director of Disability Studies Program at Georgetown. Their research covers many different areas withing the feild of ethics, including sexual ethics, theories of agency and autonomy, bioethics, and the ethics of science. They also study the philosophy of language, social epistemology, philosophies of geography and medicine, and anti-oppression philosophy. They've written a number of books including the forthcoming Sex Beyond ‘Yes!’: Consent, Pleasure, and Freedom (W.W. Norton 2024), City Living: How Urban Spaces and Urban Dwellers Make One Another (OUP, 2021), ‘Yo!’ and ‘Lo!’: The Pragmatic Topography of the Space of Reasons, with Mark Lance (Harvard, 2009), and Mass Hysteria: Medicine, Culture and Mothers’ Bodies (Rowman and Littlefield 2005).

  • Timothy Murphy

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