Justification-Skepticism

Dissertation, The University of Rochester (2003)

Abstract

Justification-skepticism is the view that all our beliefs based on perception, memory, and induction are epistemically unjustified. A typical argument for justification-skepticism argument runs as follows: ' Suppose that SE is your sensory evidence for target proposition p ; You have no good reason to believe that SE makes p probable; If you have no good reason to believe that SE makes p probable, then you are not epistemically justified in believing p ; Therefore, you are not epistemically justified in believing p.' ;I reveal two key assumptions of the justification-skepticism arguments: the truth-conduciveness thesis and the skeptical higher-order thesis . ;Using the goal-oriented approach to epistemic justification, I consider various accounts in order to assess their consistency with nine key intuitions affirmed by epistemic internalists, including the same evidence principle and the same justification principle . I argue that there is no account of epistemic justification that both supports the arguments for justification-skepticism and is consistent with all the key intuitions. Any view that supports justification-skepticism is inconsistent with either the same evidence principle or the same justification principle. However, denying the same evidence principle or the same justification principle is extremely implausible for an epistemic internalist such as the justification-skeptic. This result strongly suggests that the justification-skeptic's requirements for epistemic justification are much too stringent. In light of the fact that there are accounts of epistemic justification that avoid all the implausible consequences of justification-skepticism and are also consistent with all the key intuitions, we have good reason to think that the justification-skepticism arguments depend on faulty assumptions, and thus are weak

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Todd R. Long
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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