Deontic vs. nondeontic conceptions of epistemic justification

Erkenntnis 49 (3):285-301 (1998)
Theories of epistemic justification are usually described as belonging to either deontological or nondeontological categories of justification with the former construing the concept of justification as involving the fulfillment of epistemic duty. Despite being the dominant view among traditional epistemologists, the deontological conception has been subjected to severe criticisms in the current literature for failing, among others, to do justice to the (alleged) truth-conducive character of epistemic justification. In this paper I set out to show that there is something deeply unsatisfying about the way these different conceptions of justification are usually introduced and contrasted with each other leaving it unclear just what it is that renders a particular conception deontological. In particular I look at Alston's treatment of the issue, and show that his reasons for rejecting the deontological conception involve question-begging assumptions demonstrating, at best, the possibility of its divergence from truth-conductive justification. Far from being able to settle the issue one way or another, the arguments, I shall suggest actually seem to show some sort of tolerant pluralism in justification theory to be a live option.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Logic   Ontology
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DOI 10.1023/A:1005484214164
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