Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 9, pp 2137–2166 | Cite as

Is there an epistemic norm of practical reasoning?

  • Davide FassioEmail author


A recent view in contemporary epistemology holds that practical reasoning is governed by an epistemic norm. Evidence for the existence of this norm is provided by the ways in which we assess (justify, judge and criticize) our actions and reasoning on the basis of whether certain epistemic conditions are satisfied. Philosophers disagree on what this norm is—whether it is knowledge, justified belief or something else. Nobody however challenges the claim that practical reasoning is governed by such a norm. I argue that assuming the existence of an epistemic norm of practical reasoning is neither the only nor the best way to accommodate the available data. I introduce and defend an alternative account that avoids the assumption. According to this account, the relevant epistemic assessments of action and reasoning are instrumental assessments relative to the regulation conditions of a non-epistemic norm.


Epistemic norms Practical reasoning Instrumental rationality 



I would like to thank Jie Gao, Arturs Logins, Robin McKenna, Jacques Vollet, Daniel Whiting and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Versions of this paper were presented at the Workshop “Epistemic Norms of Action, Assertion and Belief” at the University of Geneva (2014), the SIFA Conference 2014 at the University of L’Aquila, and the Leuven Epistemology Conference 2015 on Epistemic Norms. Thanks to the audiences for their helpful feedback. The work on this paper was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation research projects ‘Knowledge-Based Accounts of Rationality’ (100018_144403 / 1) and ‘The Unity of Reasons’ (P300P1_164569 / 1).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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