Should epistemology take the zetetic turn?

Philosophical Studies 180 (10-11):2977-3002 (2023)
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Abstract

What is the relationship between inquiry and epistemology? Are epistemic norms the norms that guide us as inquirers—as agents in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding? Recently, there has been growing support for what I, following Friedman (Philosophical Review 129(4):501–536, 2020), will call the zetetic turn in epistemology, the view that all epistemic norms are norms of inquiry. This paper investigates the prospects of an inquiry-centered approach to epistemology and develops several motivations for resisting it. First, I argue that the norms of inquiry are most plausibly seen as practical, not as distinctively epistemic. Second, I argue that a zetetically-grounded epistemology is unable to properly account for the rationality of belief. It fails to account for cases where intuitively irrational beliefs promote inquiry, or where intuitively rational beliefs are zetetically useless or counterproductive to inquiry. The main upshot is this: there must be a source of epistemic normativity that isn’t ultimately zetetic.

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Arianna Falbo
Bentley University

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