Epistemic Norms and the "Epistemic Game" They Regulate: The Basic Structured Epistemic Costs and Benefits

American Philosophical Quarterly 54 (4):367-382 (2017)
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This paper is a beginning—an initial attempt to think of the function and character of epistemic norms as a kind of social norm. We draw on social scientific thinking about social norms and the social games to which they respond. Assume that people individually follow epistemic norms for the sake of acquiring a stock of true beliefs. When they live in groups and share information with each other, they will in turn produce a shared store of true beliefs, an epistemic public good. True beliefs, produced individually or in groups, constitute an epistemic good—one commonly stockpiled and distributed within a community. Epistemic norms can then be understood as a kind of socially developed and transmitted normative sensibility having to do with the production of this individual and public good. Epistemic norms should serve to regulate this practice—coordinating the practice of individuals so as to afford the benefits of life in an interdependent epistemic community—and to manage the risks of being epistemically dependent on others within such a community. Here, we provide some attempts to characterize the central aspects of "the epistemic game"—the epistemic choice situation confronted by communities of epistemic agents.



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Author Profiles

David Henderson
University of Warwick
Peter Graham
University of California, Riverside