Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2022-23: Session 21

The Puzzle of Defective and Permissible Inquiry

Michele Palmira (Complutense University of Madrid)


28 April 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: On the one hand, it seems that there’s something epistemically off with inquiring into questions which don’t have true answers – call this verdict Defective Questioning. On the other hand, however, there are scenarios in which we are epistemically permitted to inquire into questions which have no true answers – call this verdict Permissible Questioning.  In the first part of the paper I present data in favour of both verdicts and show that they give rise to a puzzle: how is it that inquiries into questions which don’t have true answers can both be defective and permissible from an epistemic point of view? In the second part of the paper I explore some solutions to the puzzle, arguing that the most promising way to approach it rests on the distinction between evaluative and prescriptive norms of inquiry.