What is the definition of an epistemic norm? In what ways does it differ from a consistency norm or a rationality norm? Specifically, are epistemic norms a superset of rationality norms?

EDIT: Would it be correct to say that "epistemic norms" are just those norms which govern the acquisition of beliefs? Would this include prudential belief norms like "believing P would be useful for me, therefore I have an epistemic reason to believe P even if P isn't true or even if all of the evidence indicates that P is false"?

1 Answer 1


A norm is something you should obey--it's a rule guiding your actions. An epistemic norm then is going to be a rule guiding your acquisition of beliefs.

Here's an example:

Consistency. You cannot believe p and not-p.

Obviously consistency and other norms connected to logic are going to be important epistemic norms for us, but clearly they aren't sufficient all by themselves to help us keep from forming false beliefs.

Other norms we might need could include:

Evidence. If some belief p concerns a fact about which it is easy to acquire evidence, believe p iff one has stronger evidence for p than for not-p.

It is clear there are all kinds of epistemic norms like this that govern the practice of natural science as well as the ordinary everyday process of learning about the world.

Making a complete list of epistemic norms would probably be very, very hard though.

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