Epistemic Responsibility in Business: An Integrative Framework for an Epistemic Ethics

Journal of Business Ethics 183 (1):1-14 (2022)
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How can we make businesspeople more concerned about the truth of the information they spread or allow to circulate? In this age of ‘fake news’, ‘business bullshit’ and ‘post-truth,’ the issue is of the utmost importance, especially for business trustworthiness in the internet economy. The issue is related to a kind of epistemic responsibility, that consists in accounting for one’s own epistemic wrongdoings, such as making a third party believe something false. Despite growing interest in epistemic misbehavior in the literature of business ethics, the question of epistemic responsibility has been neglected. The aim of this paper is therefore to address this gap, by proposing a notion of epistemic responsibility for business, that may help regulate undesirable epistemic behavior, such as the spreading of false information. To define this notion of epistemic responsibility, I have introduced the concept of epistemic fault. Being epistemically responsible consists in being disposed to account for alleged epistemic faults. This notion of epistemic fault relies on a theoretical framework which combines a typology of eight ‘epistemic values’, a normative stance regarding these values, and a dispositional approach to epistemic virtues and vices. I use this theoretical framework to integrate the various accounts of epistemic virtues and vices found in the literature into a single explanatory scheme. Combined with the notion of epistemic responsibility itself, such an integrative framework should facilitate the practical application of an operational epistemic ethics in business, i.e., the development of virtuous epistemic practices.



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Erwan Lamy
Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris