The Duty to Object

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19 Citations (Scopus)


We have the duty to object to things that people say. If you report something that I take to be false, unwarranted, or harmful, I may be required to say as much. In this paper, I explore how to best understand the distinctively epistemic dimension of this duty. I begin by highlighting two central features of this duty that distinguish it from others, such as believing in accordance with the evidence or promise-keeping. In particular, I argue that whether we are obligated to object is directly influenced not only by what other relevant members of the conversational context or community do, but also by the social status of the agent in question. I then show that these features are shared by the duty to be charitable, and the similarities between these two duties point to a potentially deeper explanation: while promise-keeping is regarded as a classic perfect duty, charity is an imperfect one. I then argue that the duty to object can be modeled on a particular conception of imperfect duties, one that takes the duty to belong to communities and other collectives, rather than to individuals. I conclude by showing that this framework provides us with reason for accepting that there are imperfect epistemic duties in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-60
Number of pages26
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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