Cultivating Doxastic Responsibility

Ameliorative Epistemological Projects and the Ethics of Knowledge

  • Guy Axtell Radford University
Keywords: virtue and vice; virtue epistemology; ethics of knowledge; bias studies


This paper addresses some of the contours of an ethics of knowledge in the context of ameliorative epistemology, where this term describes epistemological projects aimed at redressing epistemic injustices, improving collective epistemic practices, and educating more effectively for higher-order reflective reasoning dispositions. Virtue theory and embodiment theory together help to tie the cultivation of moral and epistemic emotions to cooperative problem-solving. We examine one cooperative vice, ‘knavery,’ and how David Hume’s little-noticed discussion of it is a forerunner of contemporary game theory’s concern with behavior of ‘free riding’ on systems of trust or cooperation. We develop these and other examples as calling for “risk-aware” social epistemology, which ties epistemic risk (the risk of one’s ‘getting it wrong’) with doxastic responsibility. Risk-aware social epistemology aims at describing and ameliorating epistemic practices, but without confusing over-generalizing about culpability in ways that would conflate philosophical censure or critique of bias, with “blameworthiness” in any stronger sense.

How to Cite
Axtell, G. (2021). Cultivating Doxastic Responsibility. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 14(39), 87-125. Retrieved from