The Socratic Method, Defeasibility, and Doxastic Responsibility

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Educational Philosophy and Theory

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There is an extensive body of philosophical, educational, and popular literature explaining Socratic pedagogy’s epistemological and educational ambitions. However, there is virtually no literature clarifying the relationship between Socratic method and doxastic responsibility. This article fills that gap in the literature by arguing that the Socratic method models many of the features of an ideally doxastically responsible agent. It ties a robust notion of doxastic responsibility to the Socratic method by showing how using defeaters to undermine participants’ knowledge claims can facilitate responsible belief. It then argues that more robust notions of doxastic responsibility can be augmented by constructs found in the American Philosophical Association’s Delphi Report. Finally, it shows how considering challenges (that is, entertaining defeaters) and modifying beliefs accordingly are objectives of the Socratic method and crucial elements of what it means to be a responsible believer.