Epistemic Deontologism and Role-Oughts

Logos and Episteme 5 (3):245-263 (2014)
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William Alston’s argument against epistemological deontologism rests upon two key premises: first, that we lack a suitable amount of voluntary control with respect to our beliefs, and, second, the principle that “ought” implies “can.” While several responses to Alston have concerned rejecting either of these two premises, I argue that even on the assumption that both premises are true, there is room to be made for deontologism in epistemology. I begin by offering a criticism of Richard Feldman’s invaluable work on ‘role-oughts’, whereupon I development my own positive view in light of Feldman’s shortcomings. The upshot is that while we as epistemic agents are not responsible for the beliefs we form, we are nonetheless responsible for the various bodily or mental activities that typically bear a causal influence on belief formation.
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