Unzipping the Zetetic Turn

Synthese 202 (6):1-29 (2023)
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Zetetic norms govern our acts of inquiry. Epistemic norms govern our beliefs and acts of belief formation. Recently, Jane Friedman (2020) has defended that we should think of these norms as conforming a single normative domain: epistemology should take a zetetic turn. Though this unification project implies a substantive re-elaboration of our traditional epistemic norms, Friedman argues that the reasons supporting the turn are robust enough to warrant its revisionary implications. In this paper, I suggest we should read Friedman’s proposal as a dilemma. Either we believe the zetetic turn is well-motivated and undertake the task of looking for the proper revision of our traditional epistemic norms, or we take the revisionary implications of the turn to be unacceptable, in which case our challenge is to show why a zetetic epistemology is not a well-motivated project after all. After presenting this dilemma, I make a case for endorsing its second horn by presenting a two-pronged argument against Friedman’s project. First, I show that the revisionary implications of the zetetic turn are more far-reaching than expected. Second, I defend that the most persuasive reasons for endorsing the turn are not strong enough to support it. Taken together, these considerations speak against accepting the zetetic turn and the revisionary implications that come with it.

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David Domínguez
Complutense University of Madrid


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