Some Epistemic Roles for Curiosity

In Ilhan Inan, Lani Watson, Dennis Whitcomb & Safiye Yigit (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Curiosity. Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 217-238 (2018)
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Abstract

I start with a critical discussion of some attempts to ground epistemic normativity in curiosity. Then I develop three positive proposals. The first of these proposals is more or less purely philosophical; the second two reside at the interdisciplinary borderline between philosophy and psychology. The proposals are independent and rooted in different literatures. Readers uninterested in the first proposal (and the critical discussion preceding it) may nonetheless be interested in the second two proposals, and vice versa. The proposals are as follows. First I argue that, among several ways in which the notion of curiosity might be used to delineate significant truths from trivial ones, a particular way is the most promising. Second, I argue that curiosity has some underappreciated epistemic roles involving memory. Third, I argue that curiosity has some underappreciated epistemic roles involving coherence.

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Dennis Whitcomb
Western Washington University

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