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Epistemic blame and the normativity of evidence


Schmidt, Sebastian (2021). Epistemic blame and the normativity of evidence. Erkenntnis:online.

Abstract

The normative force of evidence can seem puzzling. It seems that having conclusive evidence for a proposition does not, by itself, make it true that one ought to believe the proposition. But spelling out the condition that evidence must meet in order to provide us with genuine normative reasons for belief seems to lead us into a dilemma: the condition either fails to explain the normative significance of epistemic reasons or it renders the content of epistemic norms practical. The first aim of this paper is to spell out this challenge for the normativity of evidence. I argue that the challenge rests on a plausible assumption about the conceptual connection between normative reasons and blameworthiness. The second aim of the paper is to show how we can meet the challenge by spelling out a concept of epistemic blameworthiness. Drawing on recent accounts of doxastic responsibility and epistemic blame, I suggest that the normativity of evidence is revealed in our practice of suspending epistemic trust in response to impaired epistemic relationships. Recognizing suspension of trust as a form of epistemic blame allows us to make sense of a purely epistemic kind of normativity the existence of which has recently been called into doubt by certain versions of pragmatism and instrumentalism.

Abstract

The normative force of evidence can seem puzzling. It seems that having conclusive evidence for a proposition does not, by itself, make it true that one ought to believe the proposition. But spelling out the condition that evidence must meet in order to provide us with genuine normative reasons for belief seems to lead us into a dilemma: the condition either fails to explain the normative significance of epistemic reasons or it renders the content of epistemic norms practical. The first aim of this paper is to spell out this challenge for the normativity of evidence. I argue that the challenge rests on a plausible assumption about the conceptual connection between normative reasons and blameworthiness. The second aim of the paper is to show how we can meet the challenge by spelling out a concept of epistemic blameworthiness. Drawing on recent accounts of doxastic responsibility and epistemic blame, I suggest that the normativity of evidence is revealed in our practice of suspending epistemic trust in response to impaired epistemic relationships. Recognizing suspension of trust as a form of epistemic blame allows us to make sense of a purely epistemic kind of normativity the existence of which has recently been called into doubt by certain versions of pragmatism and instrumentalism.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Physical Sciences > Logic
Uncontrolled Keywords:Normativity, Philosophy, Logic
Language:English
Date:14 June 2021
Deposited On:21 Jun 2021 08:40
Last Modified:25 Feb 2024 02:39
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0165-0106
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-021-00430-9
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)