Excusing Prospective Agents

Logos and Episteme 7 (2):119-128 (2016)
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Blameless norm violation in young children is an underexplored phenomenon in epistemology. An understanding of it is important for accounting for the full range of normative standings at issue in debates about epistemic norms, and the internalism-externalism debate generally. More specifically, it is important for proponents of factive epistemic norms. I examine this phenomenon and put forward a positive proposal. I claim that we should think of the normative dimension of certain actions and attitudes of young children in terms of a kind of “prospective agency”. I argue that the most sophisticated account of exculpatory defenses in epistemology – due to Clayton Littlejohn – does not provide an adequate model for exculpatory defenses of prospective agents. The aim is not primarily to challenge Littlejohn. Rather, I engage with his framework as a way of setting up my positive proposal. I call it the “heuristic model”.
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