Norms of Inquiry, Student-Led Learning, and Epistemic Paternalism

In Jonathan Matheson & Kirk Lougheed (eds.), Epistemic Autonomy. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 95-112 (2021)
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Should we implement epistemically paternalistic measures outside of the narrow range of cases, like legal trials, in which their benefits and justifiability seem clear-cut? In this chapter I draw on theories of student-led pedagogy, and Jane Friedman’s work on norms of inquiry, to argue against this prospect. The key contention in the chapter is that facts about an inquirer’s interests and temperament have a bearing on whether it is better for her to, at any given moment, pursue epistemic goods via outward-facing evidence-acquisition, or in a more introspective, ratiocinative fashion. This makes problems for any non-consultative approach to assisting people in inquiry, and speaks in favor of approaches which, as with student-led pedagogy, aim to ‘tap into’ the inquirer’s interests and temperament in helping them to learn.

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Robert Mark Simpson
University College London


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