Epistemic Authority, Preemptive Reasons, and Understanding

Episteme 13 (2):167-185 (2016)
Authors
Christoph Jäger
University of Innsbruck
Abstract
One of the key tenets of Linda Zagzebski’s book " Epistemic Authority" is the Preemption Thesis. It says that, when an agent learns that an epistemic authority believes that p, the rational response for her is to adopt that belief and to replace all of her previous reasons relevant to whether p by the reason that the authority believes that p. I argue that such a “Hobbesian approach” to epistemic authority yields problematic results. This becomes especially virulent when we apply Preemption to cases in which the agent and the authority share their belief, maybe even for the same reasons, or in which both have either a positive or a negative graded doxastic attitude toward a given proposition. As an alternative I propose a “Socratic account”, according to which the authority will not only motivate us to adopt her belief, but also provide us with higher-order reasons for re-assigning our own considerations their proper place in the web of reasons for and against the view in question.
Keywords authority,  epistemic authority,  expertise,  understanding,  testimony,  disagreement,  preemptive reasons,  social epistemology,  Linda Zagzebski,  socratic authority
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DOI 10.1017/epi.2015.38
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References found in this work BETA

Is Understanding a Species of Knowledge?Stephen R. Grimm - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (3):515-535.
Understanding and the Facts.Catherine Elgin - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):33 - 42.

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Epistemic Deference.Rico Hauswald - forthcoming - Grazer Philosophische Studien.

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