This project is about how our minds matter to other people. It is about the interpersonal side of our intellectual lives. Often, we tend to think of our intellectual lives—our belief-forming processes, our acts of inquiry—as a fairly private affair. While our beliefs and inquiries are of course bound up with our actions in innumerable ways, and thus equally bound up with other people at least in that sense, it also seems true that my act of forming a belief that it’s going to rain tomorrow, is somehow more my own, something that largely concerns me, in a way that my act of betraying your confidence is not. And yet, we clearly do keep an eye on each other, so to speak, when it comes to how we run our intellectual lives. We clearly respond to one another for faulty intellectual conduct in ways that go beyond merely noticing or judging that someone has done something “stupid”. Sometimes we are engaged by these judgments.
And rightly so. Some of us get justifiably quite upset, for example, by the fact that the current President of the United States seems to believe that climate change is not impacted by human activity. How people conduct their intellectual lives seems important on a number of levels—regardless of whether they are ordinary citizens, friends, loved ones, or leaders of large countries. So, naturally we have an interest in doing so skillfully, and with success. It also seems fitting that we have ways of responding to one other that are commensurate to the lack that befalls someone who does not conduct their intellectual life skillfully, or with success. This book is about that response: I call it epistemic blame.
The project aims to answer the following questions:
1) What is the nature of epistemic blame?
2) For what sorts of failings can be appropriate targets of epistemic blame?
3) What if anything is the value of our epistemic blaming practices?
A RELATIONSHIP-BASED ACCOUNT OF EPISTEMIC BLAME