Why Think for Yourself?
In this paper, I explore an underappreciated tension between two epistemic values: epistemic autonomy and the love of truth. On the one hand, it seems as though any healthy intellectual life includes thinking about a number of issues for oneself. On the other hand, it seems as though taking inquiry seriously requires you to take the best available route to the answer, and typically that is not thinking for yourself. For nearly any question you want to investigate, there is someone who is in a better epistemic position than you are to determine the answer. In what follows, I will first clarify our central question and sharpen this novel puzzle regarding epistemic autonomy. Having done so, I will argue that autonomous deliberation can be epistemically valuable to inquirers both when it is successful, as well as when it is unsuccessful. I conclude by gesturing at how these considerations point us toward an account of epistemic autonomy as an intellectual virtue.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Matheson, J. (2022). Why Think for Yourself? Episteme, 1-19. doi:10.1017/epi.2021.49