Instrumentalism, Moral Encroachment, and Epistemic Injustice

Philosophical Topics (forthcoming)
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According to the thesis of pragmatic encroachment, practical circumstances can affect whether someone is in a position to know or rationally believe a proposition. For example, whether it is epistemically rational for a person to believe that the bank will be open on Saturdays, can depend not only on the strength of the person’s evidence, but also on how practically important it is for the person not to be wrong about the bank being open on Saturdays. In recent years, philosophers have argued that moral considerations can also affect the epistemic rationality of belief, thus giving rise to moral encroachment. In previous work (Steglich-Petersen, forthcoming a), I have developed an explanation of pragmatic encroachment grounded in an instrumentalist theory of epistemic reasons. Here, I argue that this explanation extends to moral encroachment as well, including so-called “radical” moral encroachment. I also show how this explanation dispels the worry raised by Gerken (2019), that pragmatic encroachment might give rise to morally adverse consequences in the form of epistemic injustice.

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