Epistemic authority: a modern liberal defense

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Author(s): 
Linda Zagzebski
University of Oklahoma
Issue number: 
no.3 (vol.53)
Pages: 
92-107
Abstract: 

Contemporary defenders of autonomy and traditional defenders of authority generally assume that they have so little in common as to make it hopeless to attempt a dialogue on the defensibility of epistemic, moral, or religious authority. In this paper I argue that they are mistaken. Under the assumption that the ultimate authority over the self is the self, I defend authority in the realm of belief on the same grounds as Joseph Raz uses in his well-known defense of political authority in the tradition of political liberalism. The acceptance of authority over certain beliefs extends to moral and religious beliefs and is not only consistent with autonomy, but is entailed by rational self-governance.

Keywords: 
authority, autonomy, self-governance, Joseph Raz, epistemic authority
References: 

May, T. “Authority and Obligation”, in: May T. Autonomy, Authority, and Moral Responsibility. London: Kluwer Academic Pub, 1998, pp. 125-147.

Mlodinow, L. The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. New York: Random House, 2008. 252p.

Locke, J.Poslanie o veroterpimosti”[A Letter Concerning Toleration], in: Locke J. Sochineniya v 3kh tomakh [Works in 3 volumes. Vol.3]. Moscow: Mysl’, 1988, pp.91-134. (In Russian)

Raz, J. The Morality of Freedom. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986, ix+435 p.

Wolff, R.P. In Defense of Anarchism. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998 (1st ed.1970). 135p.

Wolford, G. et al. “The Left Hemisphere’s Role in Hypothesis Formation”, Journal of Neuroscience, 2000, vol. 20, no. 6, RC 64, pp.1-4.

Zagzebski, L. Epistemic authority: a theory of trust, authority, and autonomy in belief. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 279p. 

DOI: 
10.5840/eps201753350
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