Synthese 199 (1-2):2925-2947 (2020)

Paul Silva Jr.
University of Cologne
In order for a reason to justify an action or attitude it must be one that is possessed by an agent. Knowledge-centric views of possession ground our possession of reasons, at least partially, either in our knowledge of them or in our being in a position to know them. On virtually all accounts, knowing P is some kind of non-accidental true belief that P. This entails that knowing P is a kind of non-accidental true representation that P. I outline a novel theory of the epistemic requirement on possession in terms of this more general state of non-accidental true representation. It is just as well placed to explain the motivations behind knowledge-centric views of possession, and it is also better placed to explain the extent of the reasons we possess in certain cases of deductive belief-updates and cases involving environmental luck. I conclude with three reflections. First, I indicate how my arguments generate a dilemma for Errol Lord’s view that possessing reasons is just a matter of being in a position to manifest one’s knowledge how to use them. Second, I explain how my view can simultaneously manage cases of environmental luck without falling prey to lottery cases. Finally, I sketch the direction for a further range of counterexamples to knowledge-centric theories of possession.
Keywords Reasons  Possession  Justification  Rationality  Knowledge-First
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02916-5
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
The Contents of Visual Experience.Susanna Siegel - 2010 - Oxford University Press USA.

View all 70 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Dispositional Architecture of Epistemic Reasons.Hamid Vahid - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1887-1904.
How and Why Knowledge is First.Clayton Littlejohn - 2017 - In A. Carter, E. Gordon & B. Jarvis (eds.), Knowledge First. Oxford University Press. pp. 19-45.
Gettier For Justification.Frank Hofmann - 2014 - Episteme 11 (3):305-318.
Reasons and Theoretical Rationality.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford University Press.
Knowledge, Explanation, and Motivating Reasons.Dustin Locke - 2015 - American Philosophical Quarterly 52:215-232.
Beliefless Knowing.Paul Silva - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (3):723-746.
Knowledge and Awareness.Clayton Littlejohn - 2015 - Analysis 75 (4):596-603.
Do Safety Failures Preclude Knowledge?J. R. Fett - 2018 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 22 (2):301-319.
Knowledge First, Stability and Value.Barnaby Walker - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3833-3854.


Added to PP index

Total views
227 ( #48,753 of 2,499,690 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
41 ( #20,929 of 2,499,690 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes