Inquiry and the diachronic reasons to believe

March 20, 2023
ISFI Lugano, Universitá della Svizzera Italiana

Room A31 Red Building (USI West Campus)
Lugano 6900

This event is available both online and in-person


  • The SNF funded project, Quantum Indeterminacy


University of Zürich

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The formation of beliefs/doubts/disbeliefs, etc. is governed by two central norms. On the one hand, there are norms that  concern these cognitive attitudes immediately. An example of this is: believe that p only if you have sufficient reason to believe that p. On the other hand, there are norms that rather concern the investigation or, more generally, the way in which these cognitive attitudes should be acquired. For example, don't investigate about p if you know that p. Or to take a much-discussed example (Friedman 2020, 503): if one wants to figure out Q, then one ought to take the necessary means to figuring out Q. One of the questions that seriously troubles epistemologists is how to account for the relationship that the former "classical epistemic norms" hold with the latter “inquiry norms”, also called "zetetic norms".

In this article I would like to show that these two kinds of norms are not, contrary to what Friedman (2022) thinks, incompatible, that is, that they do not give rise to contradictory injunctions. It is simply that the epistemic norm is a synchronic norm, whereas the zetetic norms are diachronic. If this is true, there is no longer any reason to worry about their cohabitation.

This will lead me to tell you quite a bit about what diachronic reasons are in relation to synchronic reasons and about reasons to believe at all.

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