Epistemic Authority: A Theory of Trust, Authority, and Autonomy in Belief

Paperback | November 15, 2015

byLinda Trinkaus Zagzebski

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In this book Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski gives an extended argument that the self-reflective person is committed to belief on authority. Epistemic authority is compatible with autonomy, but epistemic self-reliance is incoherent. She argues that epistemic and emotional self-trust are rational andinescapable, that consistent self-trust commits us to trust in others, and that among those we are committed to trusting are some whom we ought to treat as epistemic authorities, modeled on the well-known principles of authority of Joseph Raz. Some of these authorities can be in the moral andreligious domains.Why have people for thousands of years accepted epistemic authority in religious communities? A religious community's justification for authority is typically based on beliefs unique to that community. Unfortunately, that often means that from the community's perspective, its justifying claims areinsulated from the outside; whereas from an outside perspective, epistemic authority in the community appears unjustified. But as Zagzebski's argument shows, an individual's acceptance of authority in her community can be justified by principles that outsiders accept, and the particular beliefsjustified by that authority are not immune to external critiques.

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In this book Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski gives an extended argument that the self-reflective person is committed to belief on authority. Epistemic authority is compatible with autonomy, but epistemic self-reliance is incoherent. She argues that epistemic and emotional self-trust are rational andinescapable, that consistent self-trust comm...

Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski is Kingfisher College Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics and George Lynn Cross Research Professor at the University of Oklahoma. Her work focuses on epistemology, philosophy of religion, virtue ethics, and the metaphysics of fatalism. She is the author of many books including On Epistemology (2008),...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9.21 × 5.91 × 0.39 inPublished:November 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190278269

ISBN - 13:9780190278267

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The rejection of epistemic authority1. Authority, equality, and self-reliance in the epistemic realm2. The epistemological case for epistemic self-reliance2.1 Mistrust of taking beliefs from others2.2 Self-reliance and the nature of knowledge: Plato and Locke2.3 Self-reliance and Cartesian doubt3. The case from ethics: self-reliance and autonomy4. Authority and autonomy in the intellectual domain5. The value of reflective self-consciousness2. Epistemic self-trust1. The natural authority of the self2. The natural desire for truth and the pre-reflective self3. The desire for truth and the reflective self4. Self-trust and the alternatives5. The conscientious believer and the nature of reasons3. Epistemic trust in others1. Epistemic egoism2. The need for trust in others2.1. Why epistemic egoism is unreasonable2.2. Epistemic egocentrism3. Trust in others and the two kinds of reasons3.1 The distinction between deliberative and theoretical reasons3.2 The two kinds of reasons and parity between self and others4. Epistemic universalism and common consent arguments4. Trust in emotions1. The rational inescapability of emotional self-trust2. Trustworthy and untrustworthy emotions3. Admiration and trust in exemplars4. Trust in the emotions of others5. Expanding the range of trust5. Trust and epistemic authority1. Authority in the realm of belief2. The contours of epistemic authority: the principles of Joseph Raz3. Pre-emption and evidence4. The value of truth vs. the value of self-reliance6. The authority of testimony1. Conscientious testimony2. Testimony and deliberative vs. theoretical reasons3. Principles of the authority of testimony4. Testimony as evidence and the authority of testimony5. The parallel between epistemic and practical authority7. Epistemic authority in communities1. Epistemic authority and the limits of the political model2. Authority in small communities2.1 Justifying authority in small communities2.2 Justifying epistemic authority in small communities3. Communal epistemic authority4. The epistemology of imperfection8. Moral authority1. The prima facie case for moral epistemic authority2. Skepticism about moral authority2.1 Skepticism about moral truth2.2 Moral egalitarianism2.3 Autonomy3. Moral authority and the limits of testimony3.1 Emotion and moral belief3.2 Moral authority and understanding4. Communal moral authority and conscience9. Religious authority1. Religious epistemic egoism2. Religious epistemic universalism3. Believing divine testimony3.1 Faith and believing persons3.2 Models of revelation4. Conscientious belief and religious authority10. Trust and disagreement1. The antinomy of reasonable disagreement2. Disagreement and deliberative vs. theoretical reasons3. Self-trust and resolving disagreement4. Communal epistemic egoism and disagreement between communities11. Autonomy1. The autonomous self1.1 The norm of conscientious self-reflection1.2 Autonomy from the inside and the outside2. Attacks on the possibility of autonomy: Debunking self-trust3. Epistemic authority from the outside4. Self-fulfillmentBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Epistemic Authority is rich, wide-ranging, and provocative. I strongly recommend it, especially to anyone who is interested in epistemic autonomy, epistemic authority, and the rational defensibility of faith and of believing on the authority of one's epistemic community. It will generouslyreward a careful and thorough read." --Anne Baril, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews