Justification as a loaded notion

Synthese 198 (5):4897-4916 (2019)
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The problem of skepticism is often understood as a paradox: a valid argument with plausible premises whose conclusion is that we lack justification for perceptual beliefs. Typically, this conclusion is deemed unacceptable, so a theory is offered that posits conditions for justification on which some premise is false. The theory defended here is more general, and explains why the paradox arises in the first place. Like Strawson’s “ordinary language” approach to induction, the theory posits something built into the very notion of justification: it is loaded with a bias towards the proposition that we are not massively deceived. Beyond the paradox, remaining skeptical problems consist of metaphysical and practical questions: whether we are massively deceived, or why we should use our loaded notion rather than some other. Such challenges have profound epistemological significance, but they are not problems that an a priori theory of justification can solve.



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Yuval Avnur
Claremont College

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Reason, Truth and History.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - Cambridge University Press.
The Skeptic and the Dogmatist.James Pryor - 2000 - Noûs 34 (4):517–549.
Naming and Necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.

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