, Volume 196, Issue 4, pp 1575–1593 | Cite as

Believing the best: on doxastic partiality in friendship

  • Lindsay CrawfordEmail author


Some philosophers argue that friendship can normatively require us to have certain beliefs about our friends that epistemic norms would prohibit. On this view, we ought to exhibit some degree of doxastic partiality toward our friends, by having certain generally favorable beliefs and doxastic dispositions that concern our friends that we would not have concerning relevantly similar non-friends. Can friendship genuinely make these normative demands on our beliefs, in ways that would conflict with what we epistemically ought to believe? On a widely influential evidentialist approach to thinking about epistemic norms, friendship cannot normatively require things of our beliefs, because friendship cannot generate reasons for belief. And this is due, in part, to the alleged fact that we are incapable of forming beliefs directly in response to, or on the basis of, non-epistemic reasons. In this paper, I argue that this evidentialist response to alleged cases of conflict between friendship and epistemic norms fails. Instead, I argue that friendship cannot generate reasons for belief due to an underappreciated feature of friendship: that being a good friend constitutively involves forming attitudes about one’s friends that are appropriately responsive to the features that one’s friends have that appear to warrant those attitudes. I argue that this feature of friendship helps explain why friendship cannot give us reasons to have beliefs that are doxastically partial.


Friendship Partiality Reasons for belief Epistemic norms Evidentialism 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Connecticut CollegeNew LondonUSA

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