Martin Smith
University of Edinburgh
NOTE: This paper is a reworking of some aspects of an earlier paper – ‘What else justification could be’ and also an early draft of chapter 2 of Between Probability and Certainty. I'm leaving it online as it has a couple of citations and there is some material here which didn't make it into the book (and which I may yet try to develop elsewhere). My concern in this paper is with a certain, pervasive picture of epistemic justification. On this picture, acquiring justification for believing something is essentially a matter of minimising one’s risk of error – so one is justified in believing something just in case it is sufficiently likely, given one’s evidence, to be true. This view is motivated by an admittedly natural thought: If we want to be fallibilists about justification then we shouldn’t demand that something be certain – that we completely eliminate error risk – before we can be justified in believing it. But if justification does not require the complete elimination of error risk, then what could it possibly require if not its minimisation? If justification does not require epistemic certainty then what could it possibly require if not epistemic likelihood? When all is said and done, I’m not sure that I can offer satisfactory answers to these questions – but I will attempt to trace out some possible answers here. The alternative picture that I’ll outline makes use of a notion of normalcy that I take to be irreducible to notions of statistical frequency or predominance.
Keywords justification  evidence  probability  normic support
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Propositional Justification, Evidence, and the Cost of Error.Ram Neta - 2007 - Philosophical Issues 17 (1):197–216.
Structural Justification.Robert Audi - 1991 - Journal of Philosophical Research 16:473-492.
The Basic Notion of Justification.Jonathan L. Kvanvig & Christopher Menzel - 1990 - Philosophical Studies 59 (3):235-261.
Knowledge, Justification and Normative Coincidence1.Martin Smith - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2):273-295.
A Paradox of Justified Believing.Colin Cheyne - 2009 - Ratio 22 (3):278-290.
Epistemic Justification.Richard Swinburne - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
What Justification Could Not Be.Mark T. Nelson - 2002 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 10 (3):265 – 281.
Truth as the Aim of Epistemic Justification.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2013 - In Timothy Chan (ed.), The Aim of Belief. Oxford University Press.
Is Justification Knowledge?Brent J. C. Madison - 2010 - Journal of Philosophical Research 35:173-191.
Justification and the Authority of Norms.Linda Radzik - 2000 - Journal of Value Inquiry 34 (4):451-461.


Added to PP index

Total views
651 ( #12,498 of 2,519,866 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
19 ( #44,466 of 2,519,866 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes