The Foundations of Epistemic Normativity
Many of us think that we ought to believe in anthropogenic climate change, that our belief is justified given the evidence and that climate-change skepticism is not rationally permitted. These epistemological claims seem normative—concerning what we ought, are justified, or are permitted to believe. Epistemological normativity raises foundational questions concerning the semantics, metaphysics and epistemology of epistemology; questions that have traditionally been asked about normative moral claims, such as ‘murder is wrong’. Do epistemological claims represent how things are, or just express approval of policies? Are some of these claims true absolutely, or only relative to particular perspectives? If so, are there objective facts that make them true? Can we know them? Our aim is to defend Robust Realism, which gives an affirmative answer to each of the above questions. We take issue with a dominant trend towards anti-realism in the study of the foundations of epistemology, largely derived from the idea that epistemology is normative. While contributing to our understanding of the foundations of epistemic normativity, this project will be relevant to topical issues, such as the popular debunking of science and rampant disregard for facts and evidence in public debate. According to Robust Realism, climate scientists’ evidence objectively justifies belief in anthropogenic climate change, and there is an absolute distinction between real, well-founded news and propaganda.