Synthese

, Volume 193, Issue 9, pp 2721–2745 | Cite as

Pragmatic encroachment and epistemically responsible action

Article

Abstract

Pragmatic encroachment (PE) is the view that whether one knows a proposition is, at least in part, a function of one’s practical situation, such as the stakes given the truth or falsity of that proposition. PE seems to be entailed by a principle stating that properly treating a proposition as a reason for acting requires that one knows that proposition, combined with intuitive judgments that the epistemic demands for good practical reasoning increase as one’s practical situation becomes more practically demanding. I argue here that this argument conflates judgments that pertain to two different kinds of normative epistemic requirements: one that pertains to whether one knows a proposition, and another that pertains to whether one is acting on one’s knowledge in an epistemically responsible way, where one acts in an epistemically responsible way just in case one is able to provide reason to believe that one does, in fact, know what one is doing. I appeal to two main sources of evidence to support the view that we make judgments of epistemically responsible action: one that appeals to the way in which our epistemic vigilance makes us look for more reasons to accept information in different circumstances, and another that appeals to empirical results from experimental philosophy. I conclude that if a major argument for PE rests on a conflation of two different kinds of judgments then the case for PE is significantly diminished.

Keywords

Pragmatic encroachment Experimental philosophy Knowledge Practical reasoning 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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