Responsibilism within Reason

In Christoph Kelp & John Greco (eds.), Virtue-Theoretic Epistemology: New Methods and Approaches. Cambridge, UK: (forthcoming)
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Abstract
According to ambitious responsibilism (AR), the virtues that are constitutive of epistemic responsibility should play a central and fundamental role in traditional projects like the analysis of justification and knowledge. While AR enjoyed a shining moment in the mid-1990s, it has fallen on hard times. Part of the reason is that many epistemologists—including fellow responsibilists—think it paints an unreasonably demanding picture of knowledge and justification. I agree that such worries undermine AR's existing versions. But I think the curtains have been prematurely drawn on the view. My goal is to show that the objections only threaten the periphery of certain versions of AR, and to develop a version that blocks them. With this goal in mind, here is the plan. I begin in §2 by clarifying the core commitments of AR and explain how influential responsibilists have added to these commitments in optional ways. In §3, I rehearse the standard objections to AR, explaining why they only impugn the add-ons. I turn in §4 to develop a version I call Kantian Responsibilism (KR). KR is a two-level view consisting of (i) a high-level analysis of epistemic normativity in responsibilist terms, and (ii) a first-order account of the conditions under which these terms apply. According to KR's first tier, epistemically virtuous thought is thought that manifests respect for truth; because I hold that manifesting certain reasons-sensitive dispositions is necessary and sufficient for respecting truth, KR's second tier takes epistemic virtues to coincide substantively with reasons-sensitive dispositions. After unpacking KR in §4, I show in §5 how it answers the objections to AR. I close in §6 by making some broader points about KR's virtues, especially when compared with reliabilist views.
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