Reducing Responsibility: An Evidentialist Account of Epistemic Blame



Abstract: This paper argues that instances of what are typically called ‘epistemic irresponsibility’ are better understood as instances of moral or prudenial failure. This hypothesis covers the data and is simpler than postulating a new sui generis form of normativitiy. The irresponsibility alleged is that embeded in charges of ‘You should have known better!’ However, I argue, either there is some interest at stake in knowing or there is not. If there is not, then there is no irresponsibility. If there is, it is either the inquirer's interests—in which case it is a prudential shortcoming—or someone else's interests are at stake—in which case it is a moral shortcoming. In no case, I argue, is there any need to postulate a form of normativity in epistemology other than the traditional epistemological norm that one's attitudes should fit the evidence one has.