A Puzzle about Normativity

Giovanni Rolla


In this paper, I present a possible solution to the puzzle unveiled by Kornblith (2012) about the sources and the possibility of knowledge of epistemic norms. The puzzle is: if such norms cannot be discovered solely by reflection (“looking inwards”, thinking about first-order thoughts), and if there are correct ways of thinking and inferring, then such norms can only be discovered by investigating the world (“looking outwards”) —a counterintuitive conclusion. To avoid skepticism about normativity, I argue that we create normative correctness and discover normative demands by investigating the world and reflecting about our epistemic practices. This is done by an exposition of the method known as reflective equilibrium, which is defended against Kornblith’s thesis that the appeal to reflective equilibrium is doomed to failure because it implies reflection.


Reflection; normativity; paradox; reflective equilibrium

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2014v18n3p323

Copyright (c) 2015 Principia: an international journal of epistemology


Principia: an internationnal journal of epistemology
Published by NEL - Epistemology and Logic Research Group
Federal University of Santa Catarina - UFSC
Center of Philosophy and Human Sciences – CFH
Campus Reitor João David Ferreira Lima
Florianópolis, Santa Catarina - Brazil
CEP: 88040-900

 ISSN: 1414-4217
EISSN: 1808-171

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