Are epistemic reasons normative?

Noûs (forthcoming)
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Abstract
According to a widely held view, epistemic reasons are normative reasons for belief – much like prudential or moral reasons are normative reasons for action. In recent years, however, an increasing number of authors have questioned the assumption that epistemic reasons are normative. In this article, I discuss an important challenge for anti-normativism about epistemic reasons and present a number of arguments in support of normativism. The challenge for anti-normativism is to say what kind of reasons epistemic reasons are if they are not normative reasons. I discuss various answers to this challenge and find them all wanting. The arguments for normativism each stress a certain analogy between epistemic reasons and normative reasons for action. Just like normative reasons for action, epistemic reasons provide partial justification; they provide premises for correct reasoning; they constitute good bases for the responses they are reasons for; and they are reasons for which agents can show these responses without committing a mistake. In each case, I argue that the relevant condition is plausibly sufficient for the normativity of a reason, and that normativism is in any case in a much better position to explain the analogy than anti-normativism.
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First archival date: 2021-04-20
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