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Philosophical Topics

Volume 45, Issue 1, Spring 2017

Epistemology and Cognition

Patrick Rysiew
Pages 181-203
DOI: 10.5840/philtopics201745110

Veritism, Values, Epistemic Norms

This paper considers Hilary Kornblith’s suggestion that epistemic norms have a practical basis—that their normative force stems from the fact that observing them helps us to achieve our various goals. This view, I’ll argue, provides a plausible account of why epistemic norms and appraisals have a claim on us. But it does not explain, and is not meant to explain, why true belief has the status of fundamental epistemic good. An answer to that question may come from familiar semantico-conceptual analysis, for example, or from the idea that belief as such is governed by a ‘norm of truth’. However, just as Kornblith’s account presumes, and requires, the essentially veritistic character of epistemic assessment, the latter ideas may require supplementation by Kornblith-style reflections on the practical value of true belief if they’re to explain why the relevant norms and appraisals have directive force. In this way, and contrary to how matters are often presented, a Kornblith-style appeal to practical considerations, and the idea (for example) that belief as such is governed by a norm of truth, may be interestingly complementary.

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