Moral encroachment and reasons of the wrong kind

  • James FritzEmail author


According to the view that there is moral encroachment in epistemology, whether a person has knowledge of p sometimes depends on moral considerations, including moral considerations that do not bear on the truth or likelihood of p. Defenders of moral encroachment face a central challenge: they must explain why the moral considerations they cite, unlike moral bribes for belief, are reasons of the right kind for belief (or withheld belief). This paper distinguishes between a moderate and a radical version of moral encroachment. It shows that, while defenders of moderate moral encroachment are well-placed to meet the central challenge, defenders of radical moral encroachment are not. The problem for radical moral encroachment is that it cannot, without taking on unacceptable costs, forge the right sort of connection between the moral badness of a belief and that belief’s chance of being false.


Moral encroachment Pragmatic encroachment Epistemic rationality The wrong kind of reason Ethics of belief Racial profiling 



For helpful conversation about the ideas in this paper, I’d like to thank Rima Basu, Justin D’Arms, David Enoch, Elizabeth Jackson, Stephanie Leary, Tristram McPherson, Nathaniel Sharadin, Declan Smithies, Alex Worsnip, and audiences at Kansas State University and the Ohio State University.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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