Father knows best: Epistemic hubris and a culture of entitlement

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only


The aim of this paper is to critically examine the relationship between epistemic hubris and a culture of entitlement, and its bearing on intellectual authority. In a culture of entitlement, intellectual authority is at risk of being dominated by church leaders, diminishing the nature and integrity of authority. This often takes the form of epistemic hubris. Implicitly, epistemic hubris is premised on the presumption that leaders know best and/or leaders have been called to have the final say. This represents an exercise of sovereign power, couched in the language of ecclesial privilege and/or divine sanction. In this culture, leaders see themselves as the sovereign exception. So, epistemic hubris is a symptom of sovereign power, which is manifested as an exaggerated sense of epistemic privilege. It is exercised on the basis of a narrow construal of ecclesiology and vocation, which depends upon the compliance of followers (active, tacit, or otherwise). In this, leaders have the right to speak, because what they say is true. Under sovereign power, then, conciliar processes for developing and sustaining intellectual authority are undermined. In the process, the wisdom of marginalized groups is inevitably devalued and dismissed.


ConferenceIntellectual Authority and its Changing Infrastructures
Abbreviated titleIntellectual authority
OtherA workshop hosted by ACU in partnership with Deakin University with support from the Religious History Association of Australia, July 29-30 AEST, ACU Brisbane and online
Internet address


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