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Philosophical Topics

Volume 46, Issue 1, Spring 2018

Can Beliefs Be Wrong?

Nomy Arpaly, Anna Brinkerhoff
Pages 37-51

Why Epistemic Partiality is Overrated

Epistemic partialism is the view that friends have a doxastic duty to overestimate each other. If one holds that there are no practical reasons for belief, we will argue, one has to deny the existence of any epistemic duties, and thus reject epistemic partialism. But if it is false that one has a doxastic duty to overestimate one’s friends, why does it so often seem true? We argue that there is a robust causal relationship between friendship and overestimation that can be mistaken for a constitutive relationship; we also argue that one can still accept some of the normative intuitions that motivate epistemic partialism even if one rejects epistemic partialism itself. Along the way, we consider and reject a watered-down version of epistemic partialism—call it epistemic partialism-light—according to which one has a duty to take steps to create in oneself a disposition to overestimate one’s friends.

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