Epistemic Sentimentalism and Epistemic Reason-Responsiveness

In Anna Bergqvist & Robert Cowan (eds.), Evaluative Perception. Oxford University Press (2018)
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Abstract

Epistemic Sentimentalism is the view that emotional experiences such as fear and guilt are a source of immediate justification for evaluative beliefs. For example, guilt can sometimes immediately justify a subject’s belief that they have done something wrong. In this paper I focus on a family of objections to Epistemic Sentimentalism that all take as a premise the claim that emotions possess a normative property that is apparently antithetical to it: epistemic reason-responsiveness, i.e., emotions have evidential bases and justifications can be demanded of them. I respond to these objections whilst granting that emotions are reason-responsive. This is not only dialectically significant vis-à-vis the prospects for Epistemic Sentimentalism, but also supports a broader claim about the compatibility of a mental item’s being reason-responsive and its being a generative source of epistemic justification.

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Robert Cowan
University of Glasgow

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