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Can practical factors influence a subject's position to know? Traditionally this question has been answered in the negative. A subject's position to know proposition p is not thought to improve merely because the subject wants to know p or has certain practical stakes depend on whether p. Appealing to these wants and practical interests while defending a claim to know is thought to be epistemically inappropriate. We argue, to the contrary, that practical factors can influence (i.e. encroach upon) a subject's position to know and can do so in an epistemically appropriate way. The argument we provide is relatively straightforward. We claim that knowledge of a certain set of propositions requires a prior action taken on behalf of the subject. This prior action can be influenced by practical factors and thus practical factors can influence a subject's position to know. Furthermore, we argue that such a move can be epistemically appropriate if it arises in an instance when the evidence and arguments favoring belief -- at least from the subject's own point of view -- are inconclusive. We conclude with an argument that the provided account offers a new framework to defend moral encroachment. The prior action taken on behalf of a subject, when it is both practically influenced and is epistemically appropriate, can be interpreted as a moral action.
Cite this work
Nathan Haydon (2011). Moral Encroachment. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/6379