On Divorcing the Rational and the Justified in Epistemology


Many epistemologists treat rationality and justification as the same thing. Those who don’t lack detailed accounts of the difference, leading their opponents to suspect that the distinction is an ad hoc attempt to safeguard their theories of justification. In this paper, I offer a new and detailed account of the distinction. The account is inspired by no particular views in epistemology, but rather by insights from the literature on reasons and rationality outside of epistemology. Specifically, it turns on a version of the familiar distinction in meta-ethics between possessing apparent normative reasons (which may be merely apparent) and possessing objective normative reasons. The paper proceeds as follows. In §1, I discuss the history of indifference to the distinction between rationality and justification in epistemology and the striking contrast with meta-ethics. I introduced the distinction between apparent reasons and possessed objective reasons in §2 and provide a deeper basis for it in §3. I explain how the ideas extend to epistemology in §4 and explore the upshots for some central issues in §5



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Kurt Sylvan
University of Southampton

Citations of this work

Moral reasons, epistemic reasons, and rationality.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):341-361.
Can Worsnip's strategy solve the puzzle of misleading higher-order apparent evidence?Paul Silva - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (3):339-351.

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References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
The Structure of Empirical Knowledge.Laurence BonJour - 1985 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
Rationality Through Reasoning.John Broome - 2013 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Warrant and Proper Function.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - Oxford University Press.

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