The Relational Foundations of Epistemic Normativity

Philosophical Issues (forthcoming)
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Why comply with epistemic norms? In this paper, I argue that complying with epistemic norms, engaging in epistemically responsible conduct, and being epistemically trustworthy are constitutive elements of maintaining good epistemic relations with oneself and others. Good epistemic relations are in turn both instrumentally and finally valuable: they enable the kind of coordination and knowledge acquisition underpinning much of what we tend to associate with a flourishing human life; and just as good interpersonal relations with others can be good for their own sake, standing in good epistemic relations is good for its own sake. On my account, we have reason to comply with epistemic norms because it is a way of respecting the final value of something that also tends to be an instrumentally valuable thing: good epistemic relations. Situating the account within the recent social turn in debates about epistemic instrumentalism, I argue that the dual-value aspect of good epistemic relations can explain important anti-instrumentalist intuitions, in a well-motivated way, within a broadly instrumentalist framework.

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Cameron Boult
Brandon University


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