Who Wants to Know?

Abstract

This chapter argues that professional inquirers, including professional philosophers, are subject to special epistemic obligations which require them to meet higher standards than those that are required for knowing. Perhaps the most obvious examples come from the experimental sciences, where professionals are required to employ rigorous methodological procedures to reduce the risk of error and bias; procedures such as double-blinding are obligatory in many experimental contexts, but no parallel bias-reducing measures are generally expected in ordinary epistemic activity. To expect such would, in fact, be over-demanding. I argue that this variation in epistemic requirements cannot be accounted for adequately via the usual standard-shifting accounts of knowledge, such as contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism. Instead, it calls for a more pluralistic approach—it suggests that knowledge is simply not the only epistemic state worthy of philosophical attention.

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Jennifer Nado
University of Hong Kong

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