Expressivism and Convention-Relativism about Epistemic Discourse

In Abrol Fairweather & Owen Flanagan (eds.), Naturalizing Epistemic Virtue. New York: Cambridge University Press (2014)
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Abstract

Consider the claim that openmindedness is an epistemic virtue, the claim that true belief is epistemically valuable, and the claim that one epistemically ought to cleave to one’s evidence. These are examples of what I’ll call “ epistemic discourse.” In this paper I’ll propose and defend a view called “convention-relativism about epistemic discourse.” In particular, I’ll argue that convention-relativismis superior to its main rival, expressivism about epistemic discourse. Expressivism and conventionalism both jibe with anti-realism about epistemic normativity, which is motivated by appeal to philosophical naturalism. Convention-relativism says that epistemic discourse describes how things stands relative to a conventional set of “ epistemic ” values; such discourse is akin to normative discourse relative to the conventional rules of a club. I defend conventionalism by appeal to a “reverse open question argument,” which says, pace expressivism, that epistemic discourse leaves the relevant normative questions open

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Allan Hazlett
Washington University in St. Louis

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