Date of Completion


Embargo Period



social epistemology, political epistemology, epistemic normativity, open-mindedness, epistemic obligation, moral obligation, social obligation

Major Advisor

Michael P. Lynch

Associate Advisor

Heather D. Battaly

Associate Advisor

Richard Wilson

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


We all have views on controversial issues: gun control, climate change, and abortion, to name a few. Due to the controversial nature of these issues, it can often be difficult to engage with those with whom we disagree. Precisely because of how much these issues matter, however, it is important to figure out whether and how we ought to engage. Aside from moral and political concerns, there are epistemic concerns. For instance, is open-minded engagement always epistemically responsible or required? The purpose of this dissertation is to clarify the role that open-mindedness ought to play in our lives. Given that providing a comprehensive answer to the question of when we ought to be open-minded is incredibly complicated—especially when it comes to controversial issues—a secondary aim is to provide a framework for properly addressing the question at all. I argue that a serious exploration of the question of whether to be open-minded must also include a detailed discussion of epistemic normativity more generally. On the view I develop, what we ought to do epistemically is largely determined by what we ought to do morally, politically, and socially. This pragmatic approach to epistemic normativity is a decisive break from traditional lines of thought, according to which epistemic normativity ought to both be treated as distinct from, as well as theorized separately from, non-epistemic varieties of normativity. One important implication of my view is that, while we ought to be open-minded in general, the importance of being open-minded typically increases with the non-epistemic significance of the matter in question.