In Defense of Constitutivism About Epistemic Normativity

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):232-258 (2022)


Epistemic constitutivism (EC) holds that the nature of believing is such that it gives rise to a standard of correctness and that other epistemic normative notions (e.g., reasons for belief) can be explained in terms of this standard. If defensible, this view promises an attractive and unifying account of epistemic normativity. However, EC faces a forceful objection: that constitutive standards of correctness are never enough for generating normative reasons. This paper aims to defend EC in the face of this objection. I do so in two steps. First, I dispute a crucial assumption underlying the case against EC: that constitutive standards of correctness in general are ‘reason-giving’ only if and because there is also a prior reason to comply with them. Second, I outline a strategy of how EC can meet the challenge of explaining what’s special about the activity of believing such that, unlike other standard-governed activities, it is capable of generating normative reasons.

Download options


External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

129 (#93,114)

6 months
129 (#4,700)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

David Horst
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Knowledge in a Social World.Alvin Ira Goldman - 1999 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.

View all 63 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

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 Schmagency?A. K. Flowerree - 2018 - In Christos Kyriacou & Robin McKenna (eds.), Metaepistemology: Realism & Antirealism. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 289-310.
The Varieties of Normativity.Derek Clayton Baker - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 567-581.
Epistemic Instrumentalism and the Too Few Reasons Objection.Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (3):337-355.
Constitutivism About Epistemic Normativity.C. Cowie & Alexander Greenberg - 2018 - In Christos Kyriacou & R. McKenna (eds.), Metaepistemology: Realism & Antirealism. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 173-196.
Epistemic Normativity.Stephen R. Grimm - 2009 - In Adrian Haddock, Alan Millar & Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Epistemic Value. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 243-264.
Varieties of Epistemic Instrumentalism.Daniel Buckley - 2020 - Synthese 198 (10):9293-9313.
Biological Function and Epistemic Normativity.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (1):94-110.
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.