Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 10, pp 2649–2675 | Cite as

Rational endorsement

  • Will FleisherEmail author


It is valuable for inquiry to have researchers who are committed advocates of their own theories. However, in light of pervasive disagreement (and other concerns), such a commitment is not well explained by the idea that researchers believe their theories. Instead, this commitment, the rational attitude to take toward one’s favored theory during the course of inquiry, is what I call endorsement. Endorsement is a doxastic attitude, but one which is governed by a different type of epistemic rationality. This inclusive epistemic rationality is sensitive to reasons beyond those to think the particular proposition in question is true. Instead, it includes extrinsic epistemic reasons, which concern the health of inquiry more generally. Such extrinsic reasons include the distribution of cognitive labor that a researcher will contribute to by endorsing a particular theory. Recognizing endorsement and inclusive epistemic rationality thus allows us to smooth a tension between individual rationality and collective rationality. It does so by showing how it can be epistemically rational to endorse a theory on the basis of the way this endorsement will benefit collective inquiry. I provide a decision theoretic treatment for inclusive epistemic rationality and endorsement which illustrates how this can be accomplished.


Epistemology Social epistemology General philosophy of science Decision theory Disagreement Acceptance 



Thanks to Sara Aronowitz, Bob Beddor, David Black, Matt Duncan, Andy Egan, Adam Elga, Branden Fitelson, Georgi Gardiner, Alvin Goldman, Daniel Rubio, Joshua Schecter, Susanna Schellenberg, Ernest Sosa, and an anonymous referee. Thanks also to audiences at The Penn-Rutgers-Princeton Social Epistemology Workshop, the Ninth Workshop in Decision, Games, and Logic, and the Vancouver Summer Philosophy Conference. Special thanks to Megan Feeney.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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