Experience and the space of reasons: The problem of non-doxastic justification [Book Review]

Erkenntnis 69 (3):295 - 313 (2008)
It is not difficult to make sense of the idea that beliefs may derive their justification from other beliefs. Difficulties surface when, as in certain epistemological theories, one appeals to sensory experiences to give an account of the structure of justification. This gives rise to the so-called problem of ‘nondoxastic justification’, namely, the problem of seeing how sensory experiences can confer justification on the beliefs they give rise to. In this paper, I begin by criticizing a number of theories that are currently on offer. Finding them all wanting, I shall then offer a diagnosis of why they fail while gesturing towards a promising way of resolving the dispute. It will be argued that what makes the problem of nondoxastic justification a hard one is the difficulty of striking the right balance between a notion of normative justification that is content-sensitive and truth conducive and the possibility of error while acknowledging the fact that our experiences can justify our beliefs in cases we are hallucinating.
Keywords Philosophy   Logic   Ethics   Ontology   Epistemology   Philosophy
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John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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