Is There a Viable Account of Well-Founded Belief?

Erkenntnis 72 (2):205-231 (2010)
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My starting point is some widely accepted and intuitive ideas about justified, well-founded belief. By drawing on John Pollock’s work, I sketch a formal framework for making these ideas precise. Central to this framework is the notion of an inference graph. An inference graph represents everything that is relevant about a subject for determining which of her beliefs are justified, such as what the subject believes based on what. The strengths of the nodes of the graph represent the degrees of justification of the corresponding beliefs. There are two ways in which degrees of justification can be computed within this framework. I argue that there is not any way of doing the calculations in a broadly probabilistic manner. The only alternative looks to be a thoroughly non-probabilistic way of thinking wedded to the thought that justification is closed under competent deduction. However, I argue that such a view is unable to capture the intuitive notion of justification, for it leads to an uncomfortable dilemma: either a widespread scepticism about justification, or drawing epistemically spurious distinctions between different types of lotteries. This should worry anyone interested in well-founded belief.



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Maria Lasonen-Aarnio
University of Helsinki

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Evidentialism.Richard Feldman & Earl Conee - 1985 - Philosophical Studies 48 (1):15 - 34.
Evidentialism: Essays in Epistemology.Earl Conee & Richard Feldman - 2004 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
What's wrong with Moore's argument?James Pryor - 2004 - Philosophical Issues 14 (1):349–378.

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