Thu Sep 22, 2011
Howison Library, 4:10–6 PM
Selim Berker (Harvard University)
Epistemic Teleology and the Separateness of Propositions
When it comes to epistemic normativity, should we take the good to be prior to the right? That is, should we ground facts about what we ought and ought not believe on a given occasion in facts about the value of being in certain cognitive states (such as, for example, the value of having true beliefs)? The overwhelming answer among contemporary epistemologists is: “Yes, we should.” In this paper I argue to the contrary. Just as taking the good to be prior to the right in ethics often leads one to sanction implausible trade-offs when determining what an agent should do, so too, I argue, taking the good to be prior to the right in epistemology leads one to sanction implausible trade-offs when determining what a subject should believe. Epistemic value – and, by extension, epistemic goals – are not the explanatory foundation upon which all other normative notions in epistemology rest.