A CASE FOR EPISTEMIC AGENCY (pages 449-474)

Dustin OLSON

ABSTRACT: This paper attempts to answer two questions: What is epistemic agency? And what are the motivations for having this concept? In response to the first question, it is argued that epistemic agency is the agency one has over one’s belief-forming practices, or doxastic dispositions, which can directly affect the way one forms a belief and indirectly affect the beliefs one forms. In response to the second question, it is suggested that the above conception of epistemic agency is either implicitly endorsed by those theorists sympathetic to epistemic normativity or, at minimum, this conception can make sense of the legitimacy of the normative notions applicable to how and what one should believe. It is further contended that belief formation in some respects is a skill that can be intentionally developed and refined. Accepting this contention and the existence of certain epistemic norms provide inconclusive yet good reasons to endorse this concept. Recent challenges to this concept by Hillary Kornblith and Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij are also considered.

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