Epistemic justification and the ignorance excuse

Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3005-3028 (2018)
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Abstract

One of the most common excuses is ignorance. Ignorance does not always excuse, however, for sometimes ignorance is culpable. One of the most natural ways to think of the difference between exculpating and culpable ignorance is in terms of justification; that is, one’s ignorance is exculpating only if it is justified and one’s ignorance is culpable only if it not justified. Rosen :591–610, 2008) explores this idea by first offering a brief account of justification, and then two cases that he claims are counter examples to the justification thesis. The aim of this paper is to defend the justification thesis against Rosen’s two cases. The argument will proceed in the following way. First, I clarify a few things about the nature of culpable ignorance generally and why the justification thesis is so intuitive. I then present Rosen’s purported counterexamples. Once this is done, I argue that Rosen misses an important view of justification in the epistemology literature that I call the pragmatic view. I present a general picture of the pragmatic view, and explain how it fits naturally with our practices of criticizing people’s beliefs, including claims of culpable ignorance. Finally, I address Rosen’s cases arguing that, if the pragmatic view is right, then Rosen’s cases are not counterexamples to the justification thesis.

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Author's Profile

Nathan Biebel
Tulane University

Citations of this work

What's Luck Got to Do with the Luck Pincer?Jesse Hill - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2003 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
Knowledge in an Uncertain World.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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