Metaepistemology

Oxford University Press (2018)

Authors
Daniel Whiting
University of Southampton
Conor McHugh
University of Southampton
Abstract
Epistemology, like ethics, is normative. Just as ethics addresses questions about how we ought to act, so epistemology addresses questions about how we ought to believe and enquire. We can also ask metanormative questions. What does it mean to claim that someone ought to do or believe something? Do such claims express beliefs about independently existing facts, or only attitudes of approval and disapproval towards certain pieces of conduct? How do putative facts about what people ought to do or believe fit in to the natural world? In the case of ethics, such questions have been subject to extensive and systematic investigation, yielding the thriving subdiscipline of metaethics. Yet the corresponding questions have been largely ignored in epistemology; there is no serious subdiscipline of metaepistemology. This surprising state of affairs reflects a more general tendency for ethics and epistemology to be carried out largely in isolation from each other, despite the important substantive and structural connections between them. A movement to overturn the general tendency has only recently gained serious momentum, and has yet to tackle metanormative questions in a sustained way. This edited collection aims to stimulate this project and thus advance the new subdiscipline of metaepistemology. Its original essays draw on the sophisticated theories and frameworks that have been developed in metaethics concerning practical normativity, examine whether they can be applied to epistemic normativity, and consider what this might tell us about both.
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