Epistemic instrumentalism, permissibility, and reasons for belief

In Conor McHugh, Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting (eds.), Normativity: Epistemic and Practical. Oxford University Press. pp. 260-280 (2018)
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Abstract
Epistemic instrumentalists seek to understand the normativity of epistemic norms on the model practical instrumental norms governing the relation between aims and means. Non-instrumentalists often object that this commits instrumentalists to implausible epistemic assessments. I argue that this objection presupposes an implausibly strong interpretation of epistemic norms. Once we realize that epistemic norms should be understood in terms of permissibility rather than obligation, and that evidence only occasionally provide normative reasons for belief, an instrumentalist account becomes available that delivers the correct epistemic verdicts. On this account, epistemic permissibility can be understood on the model of the wide-scope instrumental norm for instrumental rationality, while normative evidential reasons for belief can be understood in terms of instrumental transmission.
Keywords Epistemic instrumentalism  Reasons for belief  Instrumental rationality  Doxastic norms  Evidence
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