Institut Jean Nicod

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Epistemic norms from a naturalistic viewpoint : Interdisciplinary perspective

Ecole Normale Supérieure, 45, rue d’Ulm 75005 - 7 octobre en salle Dussane -8 octobre dans l’amphi Jules Ferry (29, rue d’Ulm)

Epistemic norms are the norms on the basis of which, in a first-person way, cognitive systems control and monitor their perceptual attention, memory, learning, planning, categorizing, reasoning, etc. Epistemic norms are thus largely procedural ; they are most often used as implicit action-guiding principles, without having to be explicitly represented. It is thus natural to study epistemic norms through the metacognitive evaluations that subjects make in the course of their daily lives, rather than only through subjects’ verbal reports about what justifies them in forming certain beliefs.
There is no agreement, however, on the nature and scope of epistemic norms. For some, epistemic norms are universal constraints on cognition ; others take them to be associated to instrumental goals in task-specific contexts. There is no agreement either on how cognizers become sensitive to epistemic norms. Some take sensitivity to a given epistemic norm, such as accuracy, coherence, or consensus, to be a cultural matter, influenced by a conceptual repertoire and by social norms, while others take it to be a universal, innate, disposition associated with metacognitive abilities. Here are some of the questions that our workshop will aim to address : 

➢ Are epistemic norms of a constitutive or of an instrumental kind ? Are all epistemic norms at the same level, or are there epistemic "meta-norms" or, at least, "overarching" norms ?

➢ Is norm-sensitivity selectively triggered by different cognitive systems (e.g., "system 1" for fluency, consensus, and "system 2" for truth, relevance) ? Are these norms ultimately in conflict ? If so, how is this conflict resolved ?

➢ Is there significant cultural variation in epistemic norms ? If so, what are the epistemological implications of this variation ? Can epistemological relativism be avoided ?

➢ Are epistemic norms dependent upon social norms ? If so, in which ways ?

➢ What does the psychology of metacognition tell us about the capacity of agents to satisfy different epistemic norms ? About the role of norms in regulating cognition ?

Organizers : Kirk Michaelian and Joëlle Proust

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