Thu Dec 3, 2020
|Graduate Research Colloquium
Making up Our Minds: Ethical Norms in Epistemic Inquiry
When we reflect on the way that we reason towards and justify our beliefs, we discover two aspects of our practices that sit very uneasily with each other. On the one hand, our deliberations about what to believe sometimes take into account non-evidential, practical considerations, like the fact that we owe our friends the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, it is generally not appropriate to cite these kinds of considerations as justifications for our beliefs, and relatedly, we do not pay attention to the practical contours of other people’s situations when we are trying to figure out whether their beliefs are justified. To reconcile these two aspects of our practices, I’ll argue, we need to recognize a distinction between the first-order epistemic question of what to believe, and the second-order epistemic question of how to decide what to believe. In my talk, I’ll develop this distinction in the context of examining what it is to take a possibility seriously, and explain how this distinction can help us resolve a particularly persistent philosophical debate about the relationship between epistemic and practical rationality.