On instrumental zetetic normativity

Philosophical Topics (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Jane Friedman claims that when we inquire, there is a tension between the instrumental normativity of our inquiries and some basic epistemic norms: The former forbids what the latter permit. Moreover, she argues that since the instrumental normativity of inquiry is epistemic, the previous tension shows that our current conception of epistemic normativity is incoherent and needs to be revised. To solve the problem, she suggests that all our epistemic norms should be considered “zetetic”, namely, norms of inquiry. In this paper, I will argue that the instrumental normativity of inquiry Friedman depicts is inaccurate. I will propose the following alternative picture: All our reasons to inquire and take means to answer our questions are instrumental and can be derivative from the epistemic, the practical, or both. However, developing this alternative view, I will argue that our duties to inquire and take means to answer our questions are just practical in nature. Based on this, I will show that the tension between the epistemic and the zetetic Friedman depicts is just a conflict between the practical and the epistemic: A conflict that does not show per se that the current conception of epistemic normativity is incoherent and needs to be revised.

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Leonardo Flamini
Universita' degli Studi di Pavia

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