Publishing, Belief, and Self-Trust

Episteme 20 (3):632-646 (2023)
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Abstract

This paper offers a defense of ‘publishing without belief’ (PWB) – the view that authors are not required to believe what they publish. I address objections to the view ranging from outright denial and advocacy of a belief norm for publication, to a modified version that allows for some cases of PWB but not others. I reject these modifications. In doing so, I offer both an alternative story about the motivations for PWB and a diagnosis of the disagreement over its permissibility. The original defense focused on consequentialist reasons for allowing PWB, offering mostly defensive arguments against potential criticisms. But I argue that once we shift our focus to the reasons why authors might be prone to PWB, we see a difference in two types of motivation: whereas I imagine PWB as arising from underconfident agents, critics point to cagey or nefarious authorial practices, or authors’ failure to clarify their own degrees of belief. Underlying the debate over norms of philosophical publishing, we find two different conceptions of philosophy itself.

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Alexandra Plakias
Hamilton College

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