Epistemic vices, perception and responsibility
Keywords:Cognitive penetration of perception, vice epistemology, responsability, epistemic vices
According to the thesis of cognitive penetrability, cognitive and affective states can influence the sensory content of experience. This would undermine the process of inquiry and other epistemic evaluations such as the justification of empirical beliefs. There are situations in which this phenomenon would be epistemically harmful due to the agent’s character traits, i.e., his epistemic vices. But epistemic vices require a condition of responsibility whereby deficiencies and prejudices can be attributed to the conduct of the agent. By contrast, instances of cognitive penetration in perception occur without the individual having rational control upon the repertoire of states which affect his experience. If, hypothetically, he is not responsible for how he perceives the world, how can he have epistemic vices in these cases? In this article, I investigate this question primarily from the viewpoint of Cassam’s theory of obstructivism. I suggest that there are two types of non-voluntarist approaches regarding responsibility which can resolve the problem, one agential and the other structural.
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