Hedging and the ignorance norm on inquiry

Synthese 199 (3-4):5837-5859 (2021)
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What sort of epistemic positions are compatible with inquiries driven by interrogative attitudes like wonder and puzzlement? The ignorance norm provides a partial answer: interrogative attitudes directed at a particular question are never compatible with knowledge of the question’s answer. But some are tempted to think that interrogative attitudes are incompatible with weaker positions like belief as well. This paper defends that the ignorance norm is exhaustive. All epistemic positions weaker than knowledge directed at the answer to a question are compatible with having an interrogative attitude towards that question. We offer two arguments for this conclusion. The first is based on considerations about the role of hedging in inquiry. The second is conditional on considerations related to the aim of inquiry as a goal-directed activity.

Author Profiles

Yasha Sapir
University of Southern California
Peter van Elswyk
Northwestern University


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