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García-Valdecasas, M. (Miguel); Milburn, J. (Joe). "Prudence, rules, and regulative epistemology". Philosophies. 8 (5), 2023, 91
Following Ballantyne, we can distinguish between descriptive and regulative epistemology. Whereas descriptive epistemology analyzes epistemic categories such as knowledge, justified belief, or evidence, regulative epistemology attempts to guide our thinking. In this paper, we argue that regulative epistemologists should focus their attention on what we call epistemic prudence. Our argument proceeds as follows: First, we lay out an objection to virtue-based regulative epistemology that is analogous to the no-guidance objection to virtue ethics. According to this objection, virtue-based regulative epistemology cannot offer us useful guidance in our deliberations, because an abstract knowledge of virtue does not tell us what we should do here and now, especially in hard cases. We respond to this objection by showing that our making good epistemic decisions cannot simply be a matter of our following the right epistemic rules. In order to reliably inquire and deliberate well, we need epistemic prudence. Thus, while virtue-based regulative epistemology fails to determine how we should inquire and resolve deliberation here and now, this is also true of norm-based regulative epistemology. The upshot of this argument is that regulative epistemologists should focus their attention on understanding the nature of epistemic prudence and on understanding how we can promote its development in ourselves and others.