Epistemic Responsibility

By Lorraine Code

Subjects: Philosophy, Epistemology, Ethics, Sociology Of Knowledge, Mass Media
Paperback : 9781438480527, 306 pages, November 2020

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Table of contents

Preface to the Second Edition

1. Introduction: Epistemic Responsibility

Part I: Intellectual Virtue

2. Father and Son: A Case Study
Introduction: The Gosse Case
Foundations, Coherence, and Narrative
Some Interim Conclusions

3. Toward a "Responsibilist" Epistemology
"The Raft and the Pyramid"
Epistemological Precedents

4. The Ethics of Belief
The Ethical and the Epistemic
The Ethics of Belief
Belief and Choice

Part II: Cognitive Activity

5. The Knowing Subject
Theoretical Basis
Kant cum Piaget: Steps Toward the Personal
Knowers As Persons
Epistemology and Human Nature

6. Realism and Understanding
Realism, Truth, and Intellectual Virtue
Normative Realism
Subjectivism and Dogmatism
The Lebenswelt: Cognitive Practice

7. Epistemic Community
Community and Commonability
Cognitive Interdependence and Trust
Contracts, Forms of Life, and Practices
Epistemological Altruism

Part III: Epistemic Life

8. Literature, Truth, and Understanding
Fiction as a Source of Understanding
Responsibility for Truth
The Case of Styron: The Factual and the Fictional

9. Cognitive Practice
The Division of Intellectual Labor
Polanyi and/or Foucault
Education, Authority, and the Epistemic Community

10. Conclusion


Develops a new kind of epistemological position that highlights virtue over more standard epistemological theories.


Having adequate knowledge of the world is not just a matter of survival but also one of obligation. This obligation to "know well" is what philosophers have termed "epistemic responsibility." In this innovative and eclectic study, Lorraine Code explores the possibilities inherent in this concept as a basis for understanding human attempts to know and understand the world and for discerning the nature of intellectual virtue. By focusing on the idea that knowing is a creative process guided by imperatives of epistemic responsibility, Code provides a fresh perspective on the theory of knowledge.

From this new perspective, Code poses questions about knowledge that have a different focus from those traditionally raised in the two leading epistemological theories, foundationalism and coherentism. While not rejecting these approaches, this new position moves away from a primary concentration on determinate products and towards an examination of ever-changing processes. Arguing that knowledge never exists as an ungrounded abstraction but rather emerges through dialogue between variously authoritative "knowers" situated within particular social and historical contexts, she draws extensively on examples from lived social experience to illustrate the ways in which human beings have long tried to recognize and meet their epistemic responsibilities.

This edition of Epistemic Responsibility includes a new preface from Lorraine Code.

Lorraine Code is Distinguished Research Professor Emerita of Philosophy at York University, Canada. She is the author of several books, including Manufactured Uncertainty: Implications for Climate Change Skepticism, also published by SUNY Press, and Ecological Thinking: The Politics of Epistemic Location.