Tag Archives: epistemic deference

Henry Sidgwick

It is sometimes said that we live in an age that rejects authority. The statement, thus qualified, seems misleading; probably there never was a time when the number of beliefs held by each individual, undemonstrated and unverified by himself, was greater. But it is true that we only accept authority of a peculiar sort; the authority, namely, that is formed and maintained by the unconstrained agreement of individual thinkers, each of whom we believe to be seeking truth with single-mindedness and sincerity, and declaring what he has found with scrupulous veracity, and the greatest attainable exactness and precision.

Henry Sidgwick, ‘The Ethics of Religious Conformity’, International Journal of Ethics, vol. 6, no. 3 (April, 1896), p. 280