On Epistemic Alchemy

In Dylan Dodd Elia Zardini (ed.), Scepticism and Perceptual Justification. Oxford University Press. pp. 173-189 (2014)
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Abstract

Crispin Wright has proposed that one has entitlements to accept certain propositions that play a foundational role within one’s body of belief. Such an entitlement is a kind of warrant that does not require the possessor to have acquired evidence speaking in favor of the proposition in question. The proposal allows Wright to concede much of the force of the most powerful arguments for scepticism, while avoiding the truly sceptical conclusion that one lacks warrant for most of one’s beliefs. Here I will argue that Wright has underestimated a problem for his proposal, the alchemy problem, which is that it seems to make room for the easy conversion of mere entitlement to accept a proposition into justification to believe it. I question the adequacy of Wright’s own response to this worry, and instead explore the idea that epistemic alchemy, properly understood, is not epistemically objectionable.

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Aidan McGlynn
University of Edinburgh

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