Problems with Publishing Philosophical Claims We Don't Believe

Episteme 20 (2):449-458 (2023)
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Plakias has recently argued that there is nothing wrong with publishing defences of philosophical claims which we don't believe and also nothing wrong with concealing our lack of belief, because an author's lack of belief is irrelevant to the merit of a published work. Fleisher has refined this account by limiting the permissibility of publishing without belief to what he calls ‘advocacy role cases’. I argue that such lack of belief is irrelevant only if it is the result of an inexplicable incredulity or the result of a metaphilosophical or epistemic stance that is unrelated to the specific claim. However, in many real-life cases, including Fleisher's advocacy role cases, our doubts regarding the claims we defend arise from reasons that have something to do with the insufficiency of the philosophical evidence supporting the claim, and publishing an unconditional defence of a claim without revealing our doubts is impermissible as it involves withholding philosophically relevant reasons. Plakias has also argued that discouraging philosophers from publishing claims they don't believe would be unfair to junior philosophers with unsettled views. I propose that we should change our academic practices that pressure philosophers to publish articles that pretend to be defences of settled views.

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