Paper on epistemic value — 2 Comments

  1. Dennis,

    I just gave the paper a quick read and wanted to ask a question that I think is more about the ground surveyed than the survey of the ground. There’s some mention in the paper of justification pluralism, but there’s little talk of _value_ pluralism. The following view seems rather attractive to me: when we do the right thing there’s often two kinds of value that attach to our actions. There’s a kind of value that arises from acting responsibly and a kind that arises from acting in such a way as to take care of one’s responsibilities. Roughly, one value arises because we can see in the agent’s action due care, good will, and all that stuff that makes us interested in scrutinizing motivation and one value arises because we can see a relationship between the action and the norms that tell us what types of action are permissible in various circumstances. I think we can say something similar for justified belief. When you justifiably believe, there’s the value that arises because you’ve been as responsible as you need to be and there’s a value that arises because you believe things you’re not obliged to refrain from believing. It doesn’t seem that this sort of view is on the radar, but it seems it should be. It also seems that some arguments (to be discussed at another time) are very crude because they rest on betterness judmgents without sensitivity to plurality of better-makers.

  2. I’m an epistemic value pluralist too, of sorts. One place value pluralism shows up is within what the paper calls “thick virtue episty”. The thick virtue epistemologists want to believe in numerous virtues like open-mindedness and perceptiveness, those different virtues encoding different ways for people to be good or do well epistemically. Another place pluralism can show up is in the epistemic goals literature: if you believe there are several epistemic goals, you are thereby an epistemic value pluralist. But of course, if you are an epistemic value pluralist, then you have to answer the question: of all the epistemic values, what is it they share in virtue of which they are epistemic values? The most popular line of answer here, for instance the line on offer from Goldman and Alston, is that all the epistemic values have their status as such in virtue of their (usually) instrumental relationship to true belief and the avoidance of false belief. People who say that are the people I label “truth consequentialists” in the paper. In a way these people are value pluralists, because they say lots of things have e-value. But in a deeper way they are monists, because they explain all of e-value in terms of one (or maybe two) epistemic ends. Anyway, I’ll try to make the possibilities of epistemic value pluralism more clear in the next draft.

    I’d sure like to hear about those crude arguments…

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