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Explanatory Obligations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2020

Kareem Khalifa*
Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, USA
Jared Millson
Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:


In this paper, we argue that a person is obligated to explain why p just in case she has a role-responsibility to answer the question “Why p?”. This entails that the normative force of explanatory obligations is fundamentally social. We contrast our view with other accounts of explanatory obligations or the so-called “need for explanation,” in which the aforementioned normative force is epistemic, determined by an inquirer's interests, or a combination thereof. We argue that our account outperforms these alternatives.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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