Epistemic blame as relationship modification: reply to Smartt

Philosophical Studies 181 (2):387-396 (2024)
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Abstract

I respond to Tim Smartt’s (2023) skepticism about epistemic blame. Smartt’s skepticism is based on the claims that (i) mere negative epistemic evaluation can better explain everything proponents of epistemic blame say we need epistemic blame to explain; and (ii) no existing account of epistemic blame provides a plausible account of the putative force that any response deserving the label “blame” ought to have. He focuses primarily on the prominent “relationship-based” account of epistemic blame to defend these claims, arguing that the account is explanatorily idle, and cannot distinguish between epistemically excused and epistemically blameworthy agents. I argue that Smartt mischaracterizes the account’s role for judgments of epistemic relationship impairment, leading to mistaken claims about the account’s predictions. I also argue that the very feature of the account that Smartt mischaracterizes is key to understanding what epistemic blame does for our epistemic responsibility practices that mere negative epistemic evaluation cannot.

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Cameron Boult
Brandon University

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