Bounded Reflectivism and Epistemic Identity

Metaphilosophy 53 (1):53-69 (2022)
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Reflectivists consider reflective reasoning crucial for good judgment and action. Anti-reflectivists deny that reflection delivers what reflectivists seek. Alas, the evidence is mixed. So, does reflection confer normative value or not? This paper argues for a middle way: reflection can confer normative value, but its ability to do this is bound by such factors as what we might call epistemic identity: an identity that involves particular beliefs—for example, religious and political identities. We may reflectively defend our identities’ beliefs rather than reflect open-mindedly to adopt whatever beliefs cohere with the best arguments and evidence. This bounded reflectivism is explicated with an algorithmic model of reflection synthesized from philosophy and science that yields testable predictions, psychometric implications, and realistic metaphilosophical suggestions—for example, overcoming motivated reflection may require embracing epistemic identity rather than veiling it (à la Rawls 1971). So bounded reflectivism should be preferred to views offering anything less.

Author's Profile

Nick Byrd
Stevens Institute of Technology


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