Vice epistemology, norm-maintenance and epistemic evasiveness
Vice epistemology, norm-maintenance and epistemic evasiveness.
Synthese: An International Journal for Epistemology, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, 201.
Vice epistemology studies how character traits, attitudes, or thinking styles systematically get in the way of knowledge, while doxastic responsibility is concerned with what kinds of responses are appropriate towards agents who believe badly. This paper identifies a new connection between these two fields, arguing that our propensity to take responsibility for our doxastic failures is directly relevant for vice epistemology, and in particular, understanding the social obstacles to knowledge that epistemic vices can create. This is because responses to norm violations are an important mechanism by which norms are upheld, and maintaining epistemic norms is crucial for our collective epistemic successes. This paper then identifies a new kind of vice, one which is bad precisely because of the way it undermines the epistemic norms that our blaming practices help maintain, and thus the benefits that said norms create. I call this vice epistemic evasiveness, and it concerns the attitude that one takes towards their own performance as an epistemic agent. Evasiveness is bad because it creates uncertainty about which agents are reliable, it prevents holders of this attitude from learning from their mistakes, and it signals to third parties that the norm is not being upheld, making them less likely to follow the norm
epistemic vice, vice epistemology, epistemic evasiveness, blame, doxastic responsibility