On the Epistemic Costs of Friendship: Against the Encroachment View

Episteme 20 (2):247-264 (2023)
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I defend the thesis that friendship can constitutively require epistemic irrationality against a recent, forceful challenge, raised by proponents of moral and pragmatic encroachment. Defenders of the “encroachment strategy” argue that exemplary friends who are especially slow to believe that their friends have acted wrongly are simply sensitive to the high prudential or moral costs of falsely believing in their friends’ guilt. Drawing on psychological work on epistemic motivation (and in particular on the notion of “need for closure”), I propose a different picture of what friendship requires in the doxastic realm. I argue that contrary to what the encroachment strategy suggests, exemplary friends’ belief formation ought not be guided by a concern with accuracy or error avoidance, but instead by a need to avoid a “specific closure” – namely, a need to avoid concluding in their friends’ guilt. I propose that exemplary friendship often generates a defeasible, doxastic obligation to exemplify such a need, despite its inherent corrupting effects on exemplary friends’ epistemic faculties.


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Catherine Rioux
Université Laval

Citations of this work

Epistemic Partialism.Cathy Mason - 2023 - Philosophy Compass (2):e12896.
Fit-Related Reasons to Inquire.Genae Matthews - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
Epistemic Partiality.A. K. Flowerree - forthcoming - In Mathias Steup (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Epistemology. Blackwell.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The wrongs of racist beliefs.Rima Basu - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2497-2515.
Knowledge in an uncertain world.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Matthew McGrath.
Doxastic Wronging.Rima Basu & Mark Schroeder - 2019 - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. New York: Routledge. pp. 181-205.

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