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dr. Christopher Bret Ranalli


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    About my work

    I’m part of the project Knowledgeable Democracy: A Social-Epistemological Inquiry (PI: Prof Jeroen de Ridder). 

    Democracies seem to be good at producing knowledge and other epistemic goods. However, phenomena such as deep disagreement and various social-cognitive shortcomings, such as confirmation bias, denialism, and groupthink, and indoctrination, among many others, look like obstacles to the ideal that democracies are especially good at producing knowledge and other epistemic goods.


    Epistemology of deep diagreement

    Deep disagreements are disagreements over the key elements of one's worldviews. For example, a religious fundamentalist and atheist don't simply disagree about whether God exists, but over an entire worldview about the human being, morality, and the cosmos. The same is true of people who have radically different views about morality, society, and the good life. The literature in epistemology has tended to focus on disagreements between peers and experts, or between novices and experts, and how they ought to rationally respond to each other. My work on deep disagreement focuses on how individuals and society ought to respond to deep disagreement, both rationally as well as morally.

    Indoctrination and epistemology of education

    Intuitively, indoctrination is a bad thing. It is a kind of miseducation. What what is indoctrination exactly and why is it bad? I defend a close-mindedness account of indoctrination. On my account, indoctrination is  as the result of highly insulated and protective instruction. Indoctrinated belief is bad, I argue, only if close-minded belief and protective instruction are bad. I argue that while close-minded belief is at least sometimes not a bad thing—e.g., when the close-minded person already has true belief but find themselves in an epistemically risky environment—protective instruction is necessarily bad because it essentially disrespects the learner in their capacity as an epistemic agent, as someone who cares about the truth and intellectual development.

    The value of knowledge and first-hand experience

    Why think that that first-hand eyewitness testimony is better than second-hand reports about the event? Why think that proving a theorem is better than getting testimony from a mathematician that the theorem is correct? My recent work explores the value of first-hand knowledge over second-hand knowledge, and questions why, if at all, first-hand knowledge is more valuable than second-hand knowledge.

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    Academic qualification

    Philosophy, PhD, University of Edinburgh

    Philosophy, Bachelor, Virginia Commonwealth University

    User created Keywords

    • Epistemology
    • Social epistemology
    • Metaphysics
    • Disagreement
    • Skepticism
    • Epistemology of education
    • Philosophy of mind


    • B Philosophy (General)
    • BJ Ethics


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