Doxastic Wronging

In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge (forthcoming)
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Abstract
In the Book of Common Prayer’s Rite II version of the Eucharist, the congregation confesses, “we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed”. According to this confession we wrong God not just by what we do and what we say, but also by what we think. The idea that we can wrong someone not just by what we do, but by what think or what we believe, is a natural one. It is the kind of wrong we feel when those we love believe the worst about us. And it is one of the salient wrongs of racism and sexism. Yet it is puzzling to many philosophers how we could wrong one another by virtue of what we believe about them. This paper defends the idea that we can morally wrong one another by what we believe about them from two such puzzles. The first puzzle concerns whether we have the right sort of control over our beliefs for them to be subject to moral evaluation. And the second concerns whether moral wrongs would come into conflict with the distinctively epistemic standards that govern belief. Our answer to both puzzles is that the distinctively epistemic standards governing belief are not independent of moral considerations. This account of moral encroachment explains how epistemic norms governing belief are sensitive to the moral requirements governing belief.
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