Humanities Talk

Tuesday, January 31, 2023
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
Reframing Epistemic Partiality: Acceptance and the Cognitive Work of Friendship
Laura Soter, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Philosophy, Duke University,

Abstract: Your friend has been accused of something serious, and the evidence is not in their favor. Or perhaps they are undertaking a difficult endeavor, and their chances of success look slim. When the epistemic chips are down, how should we believe about our friends? There are two standard answers: Evidentialists hold that we should believe only based on our evidence, while Partialists argue that friendship can demand belief against the evidence. But while Evidentialism risks underappreciating the psychological dimension of friendship, Partialism faces serious worries about the need for honesty and authenticity in friendship, as well as theoretical challenges about the (im)possibility of believing for moral reasons. In this talk, I argue that the debate is at a stalemate because it targets the wrong attitude: what we owe our friends are duties not of belief but rather of acceptance. I offer a specific account of acceptance as belief regulation, whose psychological plausibility is developed via functional analogy to emotion regulation strategies. I propose that reframing the debate around acceptance captures the virtues of both Evidentialism and Partialism, without falling prey to the various objections leveled against them.

For more information, please contact Cecilia Lu by phone at 626-395-1724 or by email at [email protected].