Belief's own metaethics? A case against epistemic normativity

Dissertation, King's College London (2017)

Abstract

Epistemology is widely seen as a normative discipline like ethics. Just like moral facts, epistemic facts – i.e. facts about our beliefs’ epistemic justification, rationality, reasonableness, correctness, warrant, and the like – are standardly viewed as normative facts. Yet, whereas many philosophers have rejected the existence of moral facts, few have raised similar doubts about the existence of epistemic facts. In recent years however, several metaethicists and epistemologists have rejected this Janus-faced or dual stance towards the existence of moral and epistemic facts. As recent developments in metaethics and normativity theory have made clear, objections to the existence of moral facts really are metanormative objections that target the existence of normative facts more generally. But since epistemic facts are no less normative than moral facts, the argument goes, the existence of the former is equally threatened by metaethical objections. In this thesis, I argue that this rejection of the dual stance fails because epistemic facts are not normative facts. Although they imply norms, they do not imply genuine normativity since the epistemic norms of belief that they imply lack necessary normative authority or force. Unlike moral norms and just like e.g. norms of etiquette and the law, there is not automatically a normative reason to conform to epistemic norms. Therefore, even if metaethical objections target all normative facts, it does not follow that they also target epistemic facts. I offer a two-part abductive argument in favour of that conclusion. First, I argue that epistemic facts lack five commonly cited features of normative facts (but not of merely norm-implying facts). Then, I argue that this is best explained by the thesis that epistemic facts are merely norm-implying and not genuinely normative. I end by exploring the potential consequences of this conclusion for epistemology and metaethics.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,891

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-01-11

Downloads
105 (#114,633)

6 months
5 (#135,621)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work

Is Free Will Scepticism Self-Defeating?Simon-Pierre Chevarie-Cossette - 2019 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 15 (2):55-78.
Epistemic Judgement and Motivation.Cameron Boult & Sebastian Köhler - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (281):738-758.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Can the Aim of Belief Ground Epistemic Normativity?Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (12):3181-3198.
Epistemic Instrumentalism and the Too Few Reasons Objection.Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (3):337-355.
Epistemic Instrumentalism, Permissibility, and Reasons for Belief.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2018 - In Conor McHugh, Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting (eds.), Normativity: Epistemic and Practical. Oxford University Press. pp. 260-280.
Moral and Epistemic Open-Question Arguments.Chris Heathwood - 2009 - Philosophical Books 50 (2):83-98.
Epistemology Without Metaphysics.Hartry Field - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 143 (2):249 - 290.
Biological Function and Epistemic Normativity.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (1):94-110.
Epistemic Reasons I: Normativity.Kurt Sylvan - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (7):364-376.
XV—The Russellian Retreat.Clayton Littlejohn - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (3pt3):293-320.