Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 3, pp 673–691 | Cite as

Teleological epistemology

  • Jane FriedmanEmail author


It is typically thought that some epistemic states are valuable—knowing, truly or accurately believing, understanding (to name a few). These are states it’s thought good to be in and it’s also said that we aim or want to be in them. It is then sometimes claimed that these sorts of thoughts about epistemic goods or values ground or explain our epistemic norms. For instance, we think subjects should follow their evidence when they form their beliefs. But why should they? Why not believe against the evidence or ignore it completely in deciding what to believe? Here’s a compelling sort of answer: because epistemic subjects are or ought to be trying to know more and following their evidence is a means to that end or to fulfilling that obligation. In this paper I argue that this compelling thought cannot be right. Subjects who are trying to know more will regularly fail to conform to some of our most familiar epistemic norms.


Epistemology Epistemic consequentialism Epistemic instrumentalism Epistemic normativity Teleology 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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