Imperfect epistemic duties and the justificational fecundity of evidence

Synthese 190 (18):4065-4075 (2013)
Scott Stapleford
St. Thomas University
Mark Nelson argues that we have no positive epistemic duties. His case rests on the evidential inexhaustibility of sensory and propositional evidence—what he calls their ‘infinite justificational fecundity’. It is argued here that Nelson’s reflections on the richness of sensory and propositional evidence do make it doubtful that we ever have an epistemic duty to add any particular beliefs to our belief set, but that they fail to establish that we have no positive epistemic duties whatsoever. A theory of epistemic obligation based on Kant’s idea of an imperfect duty is outlined. It is suggested that such a theory is consistent with the inexhaustibility of sensory and propositional evidence. Finally, one feature of our epistemic practice suggestive of the existence of imperfect epistemic duties is identified and promoted
Keywords Epistemic deontologism  Ethics of belief  Evidence  Imperfect duties  Justification
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0249-5
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References found in this work BETA

Epistemic Duties and Failure to Understand One's Evidence.Scott Stapleford - 2012 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 16 (1):147-177.
Against Supererogation.Susan C. Hale - 1991 - American Philosophical Quarterly 28 (4):273 - 285.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Duty to Object.Jennifer Lackey - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
From Epistemic to Moral Realism.Spencer Case - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy.

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