Epistemic instrumentalism

Synthese 190 (9):1701-1718 (2013)
Matthew Lockard
Southern Methodist University
According to epistemic instrumentalism, epistemically rational beliefs are beliefs that are produced in ways that are conducive to certain ends that one wants to attain. In “Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique,” Thomas Kelly advances various objections to epistemic instrumentalism. While I agree with the general thrust of Kelly’s objections, he does not distinguish between two forms of epistemic instrumentalism. Intellectualist forms maintain that epistemically rational beliefs are beliefs arrived at in compliance with rules that are conducive to epistemic ends, such as believing true propositions and not believing false propositions. Pragmatist forms maintain that rational beliefs are those that are formed, maintained, and revised in accordance with rules that are conducive to whatever ends one wants to attain. In this paper, I argue against both forms of epistemic instrumentalism and suggest that epistemic instrumentalism grows out of a mistaken conception of what it means to say that the standards of epistemic rationality are ‘normative.’
Keywords Epistemology  Rationality  Normativity  Instrumentalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-011-9932-6
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,496
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Why Be Rational?Niko Kolodny - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):509-563.
Warrant: The Current Debate.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
Perceptual Entitlement.Tyler Burge - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (3):503-48.
Content Preservation.Tyler Burge - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (4):457-488.
Knowledge and its Place in Nature.Hilary Kornblith - 2002 - Oxford University Press.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Uniqueness Thesis.Matthew Kopec & Michael Titelbaum - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (4):189-200.
A Counterexample to the Uniqueness Thesis.Matthew Kopec - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (2):403-409.
Can the Aim of Belief Ground Epistemic Normativity?Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (12):3181-3198.
A Short Refutation of Strict Normative Evidentialism.Andrew E. Reisner - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (5):1-9.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Evidence and Normativity: Reply to Leite.Thomas Kelly - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):465–474.
Ends.Mark LeBar - 2004 - Social Theory and Practice 30 (4):507-533.
Satisficing and Optimality.Michael Byron - 1998 - Ethics 109 (1):67-93.
Epistemic Rationality as Instrumental Rationality: A Critique.Thomas Kelly - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):612–640.
Humean Instrumentalism and the Motivational Capacity of Reason.Patrick Yarnell - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:499-509.
Instrumentalism Revisited.Elliott Sober - 2001 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2001 (91):3 - 39.
Epistemic Desiderata and Epistemic Pluralism.Rik Peels - 2010 - Journal of Philosophical Research 35:193-207.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
107 ( #58,319 of 2,287,514 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #45,176 of 2,287,514 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature