Explicating the Concept of Epistemic Rationality

Synthese (1-2):1-26 (2021)
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A characterization of epistemic rationality, or epistemic justification, is typically taken to require a process of conceptual clarification, and is seen as comprising the core of a theory of (epistemic) rationality. I propose to explicate the concept of rationality. It is essential, I argue, that the normativity of rationality, and the purpose, or goal, for which the particular theory of rationality is being proposed, is taken into account when explicating the concept of rationality. My position thus amounts to an instrumentalist position about theories of epistemic rationality. Since there are different purposes, or goals, for which theories of rationality are proposed, the method of explication leaves room for different characterizations of rationality. I focus on two such (kinds of) purposes: first, the purpose of guiding the formation (or maintenance) of doxastic states and, second, the purpose of assessing (the formation or maintenance of) doxastic states. I conclude by outlining a pluralistic picture concerning rationality.

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Anna-Maria Asunta Eder
University of Cologne


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