How to Be a Reliabilist

American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (2):189 - 198 (1986)
In recent years, epistemologists have become increasingly impressed with reliabilist theories of justification. 1 Reliabilism is often formulated as the claim that a belief is justified 2 just in case it is a reliable belief; however, this formulation can be somewhat misleading. There is a sense in which a set of beliefs can be reliable, just as a certain history or testimony can be reliable: what one means is that a certain set of propositions is highly accurate, has mostly true members, or is not wrong in any important way. Reliabilists, though, do not just want to say that a belief is justified just in case it is a member of a type with mostly true members, i.e., just in case it is probably true; they also want to appeal to the notion of reliability in that sense in which we say that persons, processes, proce­dures, tests, and experiments are reliable. Reliabilism is a view both about the reliability of beliefs and about the reliability of the person who has the belief or the procedure that is responsible for the belief.
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