Stance Empiricism and Epistemic Reason

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Surovell, Jonathan Reid
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Some versions of empiricism have been accused of being neither empirically confirmable nor analytically true and therefore meaningless or unknowable by their own lights. Carnap, and more recently van Fraassen, have responded to this objection by construing empiricism as a stance containing non-cognitive attitudes. The resulting stance empiricism is not subject to the norms of knowledge, and so does not selfdefeat as per the objection. In response to this proposal, several philosophers have argued that if empiricism is a stance, then there can be no distinctively epistemic reasons in favor of adopting it, but only prudential or moral reasons. I defend stance empiricism against this objection by showing that stance empiricism furthers many plausibly epistemic goals, such as false belief avoidance, wisdom, and justification. I respond to three objections to my argument: that I assume a conception of epistemic reason that leads to problematic tradeoffs (I do not), that to have epistemic reason is just to be epistemically justified (it is not), and that my premise that experience is the only source of information has no empirical content (it does).