The Problem of Unwelcome Epistemic Company

Episteme:1-13 (forthcoming)
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Many of us are unmoved when it is objected that some morally or intellectually suspect source agrees with our belief. While we may tend to find this kind of guilt by epistemic association unproblematic, I argue that this tendency is a mistake. We sometimes face what I call the problem of unwelcome epistemic company. This is the problem of encountering agreement about the content your belief from a source whose faults give you reason to worry about the belief’s truth, normative status, etiology, or implications. On the basis of an array of cases, I elaborate four distinct kinds of problems that unwelcome epistemic company poses. Two of these are distinctly epistemic, and two are moral. I canvass possible responses, ranging from stubbornness to an epistemic prudishness that avoids unwelcome company at all costs. Finally, I offer preliminary lessons of the problem and distinguish it from the problem of peer disagreement.
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Archival date: 2020-07-29
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