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Causal reference and epistemic justification

Philosophy of Science 55 (2):272-279 (1988)
Abstract
The current project of "naturalizing" epistemology has left epistemologists with a plethora of theories alleged to fall under that rubric. Recent epistemic justification theorists have seemed to want to focus on theories of epistemic justification that are more contextualized (naturalized) and less normatively global than those of the past. This paper has two central arguments: (i) that if justification is seen from a naturalized standpoint, more attention to the actual process of epistemic justification might be in order (and, hence, that the justificatory set might come to be seen more descriptively and less normatively), and (ii) that if any theory of epistemic justification were to be normatively accurate, regardless of the size of its justificatory set, then one of the requirements upon it might well be that key terms in the set would refer, in the spirit of the new scientific realism. The central thesis of the paper relies on the normative/descriptive distinction as applicable to epistemic justification theory and also relies on an intuitively plausible account of the process of epistemic justification as engaged in by an epistemic agent and skeptical challenger
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