One of the main goals of epistemologists is to provide a substantive and explanatory account of the conditions under which a belief has some desirable epistemic status (typically, justification or knowledge). According to the reliabilist approach to epistemology, any adequate account will need to mention the reliability of the process responsible for the belief, or truth-conducive considerations more generally. Historically, one major motivation for reliabilism—and one source of its enduring interest—is its naturalistic potential. According to reliabilists, epistemic properties can (...) be explained in terms of reliability, which in turn can be understood without reference to any unreduced epistemic notions, such as evidence or knowledge. This article begins by surveying some of the main forms of reliabilism, concentrating on process reliabilism as a theory of justification. It proceeds to review some of the main objections to reliabilism, and some of the responses that have been offered on the reliabilist’s behalf. After canvassing some recent developments in reliabilist epistemology, the article concludes by considering various cousins and spin-offs of reliabilist epistemology, including virtue reliabilism and various evidentialist-reliabilist hybrids. (shrink)
The New Evil Demon Problem is supposed to show that straightforward versions of reliabilism are false: reliability is not necessary for justification after all. I argue that it does no such thing. The reliabilist can count a number of beliefs as justified even in demon worlds, others as unjustified but having positive epistemic status nonetheless. The remaining beliefs---primarily perceptual beliefs---are not, on further reflection, intuitively justified after all. The reliabilist is right to count these beliefs as unjustified in demon (...) worlds, and it is a challenge for the internalist to be able to do so as well. (shrink)
One attractive feature of process reliabilism is its reductive potential: it promises to explain justification in entirely non-epistemic terms. In this paper, I argue that the phenomenon of epistemic defeat poses a serious challenge for process reliabilism’s reductive ambitions. The standard process reliabilist analysis of defeat is the ‘Alternative Reliable Process Account’ (ARP). According to ARP, whether S’s belief is defeated depends on whether S has certain reliable processes available to her which, if they had been used, would (...) have resulted in S not holding the belief in question. Unfortunately, ARP proves untenable. I show, by way of counterexample, that ARP fails to articulate either necessary or sufficient conditions on defeat. Process reliabilists must either provide an alternative reductive account of defeat or renounce their reductive aspirations. (shrink)
This is the most up-to-date collection of essays by the leading proponent of process reliabilism, refining and clarifying that theory and critiquing its rivals. The volume features important essays on the internalism/externalism debate, epistemic value, the intuitional methodology of philosophy, and social epistemology.
Stewart Cohen’s New Evil Demon argument raises familiar and widely discussed concerns for reliabilist accounts of epistemic justification. A now standard response to this argument, initiated by Alvin Goldman and Ernest Sosa, involves distinguishing different notions of justification. Juan Comesaña has recently and prominently claimed that his Indexical Reliabilism (IR) offers a novel solution in this tradition. We argue, however, that Comesaña’s proposal suffers serious difficulties from the perspective of the philosophy of language. More specifically, we show that the (...) two readings of sentences involving the word ‘justified’ which are required for Comesaña’s solution to the problem are not recoverable within the two-dimensional framework of Robert Stalnaker to which he appeals. We then consider, and reject, an attempt to overcome this difficulty by appeal to a complication of the theory involving counterfactuals, and conclude the paper by sketching our own preferred solution to Cohen’s New Evil Demon. (shrink)
Reliabilism -- the view that a belief is justified iff it is produced by a reliable process -- is often characterized as a form of consequentialism. Recently, critics of reliabilism have suggested that, since a form of consequentialism, reliabilism condones a variety of problematic trade-offs, involving cases where someone forms an epistemically deficient belief now that will lead her to more epistemic value later. In the present paper, we argue that the relevant argument against reliabilism fails (...) because it equivocates. While there is a sense in which reliabilism is a kind of consequentialism, it is not of a kind on which we should expect problematic trade-offs. (shrink)
Reliabilism is a general approach to epistemology that emphasizes the truth conduciveness of a belief forming process, method, or other epistemologically relevant factor. The reliability theme appears both in theories of knowledge and theories of justification. ‘Reliabilism’ is sometimes used broadly to refer to any theory of knowledge or justification that emphasizes truth getting or truth indicating properties. These include theories originally proposed under different labels, such as ‘tracking’ theories. More commonly, ‘reliabilism’ is used narrowly to refer (...) to process reliabilism about justification. This entry discusses reliabilism in both broad and narrow senses but concentrates on reliability theories of justified belief, especially process reliabilism. (shrink)
This paper reviews two skeptical arguments and argues that a reliabilist framework is necessary to avoid them. The paper also argues that agent reliabilism, which makes the knower the seat of reliability, is the most plausible version of reliabilism.
In Virtues of the Mind I object to process reliabilism on the grounds that it does not explain the good of knowledge in addition to the good of true belief. In this paper I wish to develop this objection in more detail, and will then argue that this problem pushes us first in the direction of two offspring of process reliabilism—faculty reliabilism and proper functionalism, and, finally, to a true virtue epistemology.
According to Selim Berker the prevalence of consequentialism in contemporary epistemology rivals its prevalence in contemporary ethics. Similarly, and more to the point, Berker finds epistemic consequentialism, epitomized by process reliabilism, to be as misguided and problematic as ethical consequentialism. This paper shows how Berker misconstrues process reliabilism and fails to pinpoint any new or substantial defects in it.
Matthew Frise claims that reliabilist theories of justification have a temporality problem—the problem of providing a principled account of the temporal parameters of a process’s performance that determine whether that process is reliable at a given time. Frise considers a representative sample of principled temporal parameters and argues that there are serious problems with all of them. He concludes that the prospects for solving the temporality problem are bleak. Importantly, Frise argues that the temporality problem constitutes a new reason to (...) reject reliabilism. On this point, I argue that Frise is mistaken. There are serious interpretive difficulties with Frise’s argument. In this essay, I show that there are principled and reasonable temporal parameters for the reliabilist to adopt that successfully undermine the interpretations of Frise’s argument that only invoke plausible premises. There are interpretations of Frise’s argument that leave reliabilism without a clear parameter solution. However, I argue that these interpretations invoke controversial premises that are at best unmotivated, and at worst they merely re-raise older disputes about reliabilism. In any event, the temporality problem fails to constitute a new reason to reject reliabilism. (shrink)
It is a widely accepted doctrine in epistemology that knowledge has greater value than mere true belief. But although epistemologists regularly pay homage to this doctrine, evidence for it is shaky. Is it based on evidence that ordinary people on the street make evaluative comparisons of knowledge and true belief, and consistently rate the former ahead of the latter? Do they reveal such a preference by some sort of persistent choice behavior? Neither of these scenarios is observed. Rather, epistemologists come (...) to this conclusion because they have some sort of conception or theory of what knowledge is, and they find reasons why people should rate knowledge, so understood, ahead of mere true belief. But what if these epistemological theories are wrong? Then the assumption that knowledge is more valuable than true belief might be in trouble. We don’t wish to take a firm position against the thesis that knowledge is more valuable than true belief. But we begin this paper by arguing that there is one sense of ‘know’ under which the thesis cannot be right. In particular, there seems to be a sense of ‘know’ in which it means, simply, ‘believe truly.’ If this is correct, then knowledge—in this weak sense of the term—cannot be more valuable than true belief. What evidence is there for a weak sense of ‘knowledge’ in which it is equivalent to ‘true belief’? Knowledge seems to contrast with ignorance. Not only do knowledge and ignorance contrast with one another but they seem to exhaust the alternatives, at least for a specified person and fact. Given a true proposition p, Diane either knows p or is ignorant of it. The same point can be expressed using rough synonyms of ‘know.’ Diane is either aware of (the fact that) p or is ignorant of it. She is either cognizant of p or ignorant of it. She either possesses the information that p or she is uninformed (ignorant) of it. To illustrate these suggestions, consider a case discussed by John Hawthorne (2002). If I ask you how many people in the room know that Vienna is the capital of Austria, you will tally up the number of people in the room who possess the information that Vienna is the capital of Austria.. (shrink)
Strategic Reliabilism is a framework that yields relative epistemic evaluations of belief-producing cognitive processes. It is a theory of cognitive excellence, or more colloquially, a theory of reasoning excellence (where 'reasoning' is understood very broadly as any sort of cognitive process for coming to judgments or beliefs). First introduced in our book, Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment (henceforth EPHJ), the basic idea behind SR is that epistemically excellent reasoning is efficient reasoning that leads in a robustly reliable (...) fashion to significant, true beliefs. It differs from most contemporary epistemological theories in two ways. First, it is not a theory of justification or knowledge – a theory of epistemically worthy belief. Strategic Reliabilism is a theory of epistemically worthy ways of forming beliefs. And second, Strategic Reliabilism does not attempt to account for an epistemological property that is assumed to be faithfully reflected in the epistemic judgments and intuitions of philosophers. If SR makes recommendations that accord with our reflective epistemic judgments and intuitions, great. If not, then so much the worse for our reflective epistemic judgments and intuitions. (shrink)
Process-reliabilist analyses of justification and knowledge face the generality problem. Recent discussion of this problem turns on certain untested empirical assumptions that this paper investigates. Three experiments are reported: two are free-naming studies that support the existence of a basic level in the previously unexplored domain of names for belief-forming processes; the third demonstrates that reliability judgments for the basic-level belief-forming process types are very strongly correlated with the corresponding justification and knowledge judgments. I argue that these results lend support (...) to process-reliabilism; I then go on to explore several different ways to make use of them in solutions to the generality problem. (shrink)
The following three propositions appear to be individually defensible but jointly inconsistent: (1) reliability is a necessary condition on epistemic justification; (2) on contested matters in philosophy, my beliefs are not reliably formed; (3) some of these beliefs are epistemically justified. I explore the nature and scope of the problem, examine and reject some candidate solutions, compare the issue with ones arising in discussions about disagreement, and offer a brief assessment of our predicament.
Process reliabilists hold that in order for a belief to be justified, it must result from a reliable cognitive process. They also hold that a belief can be basically justified: justified in this manner without having any justification to believe that belief is reliably produced. Fumerton (1995), Vogel (2000), and Cohen (2002) have objected that such basic justification leads to implausible easy justification by means of either epistemic closure principles or so-called track record arguments. I argue that once we carefully (...) distinguish closure principles from transmission principles, and epistemic consequences from epistemic preconditions, neither version of this objection succeeds. (shrink)
According to process reliabilism, a belief produced by a reliable belief-forming process is justified. I introduce problems for this theory on any account of reliability. Does the performance of a process in some domain of worlds settle its reliability? The theories that answer “Yes” typically fail to state the temporal parameters of this performance. I argue that any theory paired with any plausible parameters has implausible implications. The theories that answer “No,” I argue, thereby lack essential support and exacerbate (...) familiar problems. There are new reasons to avoid any reliability conditions on justification. (shrink)
According to the “no-miracles argument” (NMA), truth is the best explanation of the predictive-instrumental success of scientific theories. A standard objection against NMA is that it is viciously circular. In Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth Stathis Psillos has claimed that the circularity objection can be met when NMA is supplemented with a reliabilist approach to justification. I will try to show, however, that scientific realists cannot take much comfort from this policy: if reliabilism makes no qualifications about the (...) domain where inference to the best explanation is reliable, scientific realists flagrantly beg the question. A qualified version of reliabilism, on the other side, does not entitle us to infer the realist conclusion. I conclude, then, that Psillos’s proposal does not make any significant progress for scientific realism. (shrink)
Alvin Goldman and Erik Olsson have recently proposed a novel solution to the value problem in epistemology, i.e., to the question of how to account for the apparent surplus value of knowledge over mere true belief. Their “conditional probability solution” maintains that even simple process reliabilism can account for the added value of knowledge, since forming true beliefs in a reliable way raises the objective probability that the subject will have more true belief of a similar kind in the (...) future. I argue that this proposal confronts significant internal problems and implicitly invokes higher-level epistemic conditions that run against the spirit of externalism. (shrink)
: Duncan Pritchard has recently highlighted the problem of veritic epistemic luck and claimed that a safety‐based account of knowledge succeeds in eliminating veritic luck where virtue‐based accounts and process reliabilism fail. He then claims that if one accepts a safety‐based account, there is no longer a motivation for retaining a commitment to reliabilism. In this article, I delineate several distinct safety principles, and I argue that those that eliminate veritic luck do so only if at least implicitly (...) committed to reliabilism. (shrink)
According to reliabilist virtue epistemology, or virtue reliabilism, knowledge is true belief that is produced by intellectual excellence (or virtue), where intellectual excellence is understood in terms of reliable, truth-directed cognitive dispositions. This essay explains why virtue reliabilism is a form of epistemological externalism, is a moderately naturalized epistemology, and is distinct from virtue responsibilism. We explain virtue reliabilism’s answers to various forms of skepticism, its solution to the Gettier Problem, and its explanation of the value of (...) knowledge. We also describe several varieties of contemporary virtue reliabilism. Finally, we offer replies to two recently prominent objections to virtue reliabilism: that it is committed to an untenable epistemological individualism, and that there are empirical reasons to doubt whether people generally have the kinds of intellectual abilities that virtue reliabilism requires for knowledge. (shrink)
Goldman and Olsson ( 2009 ) have responded to the common charge that reliabilist theories of knowledge are incapable of accounting for the value knowledge has beyond mere true belief. We examine their “conditional probability solution” in detail, and show that it does not succeed. The conditional probability relation is too weak to support instrumental value, and the specific relation they describe is inessential to the value of knowledge. At best, they have described conditions in which knowledge indicates that additional (...) epistemic value is likely to be forthcoming in the future. We also argue that their motive analogy breaks down. The problem, we conclude, is that being produced by a reliable process is not sufficient for a belief to be justified. (shrink)
What are the conditions under which suspension of belief—or suspension, for short—is justified? Process reliabilists hold that our beliefs are justified if and only if these are produced or sustained by reliable cognitive processes. But they have said relatively little about suspension. Perhaps they think that we may easily extend an account of justified belief to deal with justified suspension. But it's not immediately clear how we may do so; in which case, evidentialism has a distinct advantage over reliabilism. (...) In this paper, I consider some proposals as to how process reliabilists might seek to account for justified suspension. Although several of these proposals do not work, two are promising. The first such proposal appeals to the notion of propositional justification; the second involves weaving evidentialist elements into reliabilism. I'll argue that the second proposal is better than the first. (shrink)
After sketching my own solution to the Value of Knowledge Problem, which argues for a deontological understanding of justification and understands the value of knowing interesting propositions by the value we place on believing as we ought to believe, I discuss Alvin Goldman's and Erik Olsson's recent attempts to explain the value of knowledge within the framework of their reliabilist epistemology.
We are becoming increasingly dependent on robots and other forms of artificial intelligence for our beliefs. But how should the knowledge gained from the “say-so” of a robot be classified? Should it be understood as testimonial knowledge, similar to knowledge gained in conversation with another person? Or should it be understood as a form of instrument-based knowledge, such as that gained from a calculator or a sundial? There is more at stake here than terminology, for how we treat objects as (...) sources of knowledge often has important social and legal consequences. In this paper, I argue that at least some robots are capable of testimony. I make my argument by exploring the differences between instruments and testifiers on a well-known account of knowledge: reliabilism. On this approach, I claim that the difference between instruments and testifiers as sources of knowledge is that only the latter are capable of deception. As some robots can be designed to deceive, so they too should be recognized as testimonial sources of knowledge. (shrink)
Generativism about memory justification is the view that memory can generate epistemic justification. Generativism is gaining popularity, but process reliabilists tend to resist it. Process reliabilism explains the justification of beliefs by way of the reliability of the processes they result from. Some advocates of reliabilism deny various forms of generativism. Other reliabilists reject or remain neutral about only the more extreme forms. I argue that an extreme form of generativism follows from reliabilism. This result weakens a (...) long-standing argument for reliabilism. (shrink)
Jonathan Vogel has presented a disturbing problem for reliabilism. 1 Reliabilists claim that knowledge is reliably produced true belief. Reliabilism is, of course, a version of externalism, and on such a view, a knower need have no knowledge, no justified belief, indeed, no conception that his or her belief is reliably produced. It is the fact that the knower's true belief is reliably produced which makes it a case of knowledge, not any appreciation of this fact. But Vogel (...) now argues that reliabilists will, by a process he calls ‘bootstrapping’, far too easily gain knowledge of the reliability of the processes by which their knowledge is produced. For the reliabilist, knowledge which should be difficult to come by is quite easily and trivially attainable, Vogel argues. And this, of course, seems to show a fundamental flaw in the reliabilist conception of knowledge.One solution to this puzzle is offered by van Cleve . Bootstrapping may seem unattractive, van Cleve claims, but only when we fail to consider the alternative. Any epistemological view which does not legitimate bootstrapping, he argues, will inevitably lead to scepticism. And if the choice is between bootstrapping and scepticism, van Cleve will happily accept bootstrapping.It would be nice, certainly, if we could avoid this unpalatable dilemma.Vogel's argument is disturbingly straightforward. Suppose that Roxanne gains knowledge that the gas tank in her car is full by looking at her gas gauge, and let us further suppose that Roxanne has no reason at all to believe that her gas gauge is reliable. As Vogel points out, reliabilists cannot object to these assumptions. Precisely because reliabilism is a version of externalism, reliabilists must allow that there are cases meeting these very conditions. That is, reliabilists must allow that one can gain knowledge by way of a …. (shrink)
Reliabilism furnishes an account of basic knowledge that circumvents the problem of the given. However, reliabilism and other epistemological theories that countenance basic knowledge have been criticized for permitting all-too-easy higher-level knowledge. In this paper, I describe the problem of easy knowledge, look briefly at proposed solutions, and then develop my own. I argue that the easy knowledge problem, as it applies to reliabilism, hinges on a false and too crude understanding of ‘reliable’. With a more plausible (...) conception of ‘reliable’, a simple and elegant solution emerges. (shrink)
One leading approach to justification comes from the reliabilist tradition, which maintains that a belief is justified provided that it is reliably formed. Another comes from the ‘Reasons First’ tradition, which claims that a belief is justified provided that it is based on reasons that support it. These two approaches are typically developed in isolation from each other; this essay motivates and defends a synthesis. On the view proposed here, justification is understood in terms of an agent’s reasons for belief, (...) which are in turn analyzed along reliabilist lines: an agent's reasons for belief are the states that serve as inputs to their reliable processes. I show that this synthesis allows each tradition to profit from the other's explanatory resources. In particular, it enables reliabilists to explain epistemic defeat without abandoning their naturalistic ambitions. I go on to compare my proposed synthesis with other hybrid versions of reliabilism that have been proposed in the literature. (shrink)
What is it for an imprecise credence to be justified? It might be thought that this is not a particularly urgent question for friends of imprecise credences to answer. For one might think that its answer just depends on how a well-trodden issue in epistemology plays out—namely, that of which theory of doxastic justification, be it reliabilism, evidentialism, or some other theory, is correct. I’ll argue, however, that it’s difficult for reliabilists to accommodate imprecise credences, at least if we (...) understand such credences to be determinate first-order attitudes. If I’m right, reliabilists will have to reject imprecise credences, and friends of imprecise credences will have to reject reliabilism. Near the end of the paper, I’ll also consider whether reliabilism can accommodate indeterminate credences. (shrink)
According to the thought experiment most commonly used to argue against reliabilism, Mr. Truetemp is given an unusual but reliable cognitive faculty. Since he is unaware of the existence of this faculty, its deliverances strike him as rather odd. Many think that Truetemp would not have justified beliefs. Since he satisfies the reliabilist conditions for justified belief, reliabilism appears to be mistaken. I argue that the Truetemp case is underdescribed and that this leads readers to make erroneous assumptions (...) about Truetemp's epistemic situation. After examining empirical studies of actual subjects who, like Truetemp, have received new perceptual faculties, I show that Truetemp must have been endowed with all of the reorganized neural circuitry and cognitive skills that subjects with new perceptual faculties normally acquire during a long and difficult process of adaptation and development. When readers realize how much more the designers of Truetemp's new faculty had to do than simply slip an artificial device under Truetemp's scalp, I find that they no longer think his beliefs would be unjustified. Because the thought experiment fails to support anti-reliabilist intuitions when further details of the case are made explicit, the Truetemp thought experiment does not constitute a clear and decisive counterexample to reliabilism. (shrink)
When I take a sip from the coffee in my cup, I can taste that it is sweet. When I hold the cup with my hands, I can feel that it is hot. Why does the experience of feeling that the cup is hot give me justification for believing that the cup is hot?And why does the experience of tasting that the coffee is sweet give me justification for believing that the coffee is sweet?In general terms: Why is it that (...) a sense experience that P is a source of justification—a reason—for believing that P? Call this the Question. I will discuss various answers to the Question, and defend the one I myself favor. (shrink)
Combining active externalism in the form of the extended and distributed cognition hypotheses with virtue reliabilism can provide the long sought after link between mainstream epistemology and philosophy of science. Specifically, by reading virtue reliabilism along the lines suggested by the hypothesis of extended cognition, we can account for scientific knowledge produced on the basis of both hardware and software scientific artifacts. Additionally, by bringing the distributed cognition hypothesis within the picture, we can introduce the notion of epistemic (...) group agents, in order to further account for collective knowledge produced on the basis of scientific research teams. (shrink)
The reliability of a belief-producing process is a matter of how likely it is that the process will produce beliefs that are true. The term reliabilism may be used to refer to any position that makes this idea of reliability central to the explication of some important epistemic concept. I know of three such positions that appeal to some epistemologists: a reliabilist account of what makes a belief justified, a reliabilist account of what makes a true belief knowledge, and (...) a reliabilist answer to the question of the fourth condition, the question of what must be added to justified true belief to make knowledge. Obviously these are alternative positions rather than parts of a single coherent whole. I think of the first as reliabilism’s boldest stand, the second as the position to which it may retreat when the first is found untenable, and the third as its last refuge. I will criticize only the first two positions. (shrink)
According to epistemic internalism, the only facts that determine the justificational status of a belief are facts about the subject’s own mental states, like beliefs and experiences. Externalists instead hold that certain external facts, such as facts about the world or the reliability of a belief-producing mechanism, affect a belief’s justificational status. Some internalists argue that considerations about evil demon victims and brains in vats provide excellent reason to reject externalism: because these subjects are placed in epistemically unfavorable settings, externalism (...) seems unable to account for the strong intuition that these subjects’ beliefs are nonetheless justified. I think these considerations do not at all help the internalist cause. I argue that by appealing to the anti-individualistic nature of perception, it can be shown that skeptical scenarios provide no reason to prefer internalism to externalism. (shrink)
In its most basic form, Simple Reliabilism states that: a belief is justified iff it is formed as the result of a reliable belief-forming process. But so-called New Evil Demon (NED) cases have been given as counterexamples. A common response has been to complicate reliabilism from its simplest form to accommodate the basic reliabilist position, while at the same time granting the force of NED intuitions. But what if despite initial appearances, Simple Reliabilism, without qualification, is compatible (...) with the NED intuition? What we can call the Dispositionalist Response to the New Evil Demon problem is fascinating because it contends just that: Simple Reliabilism is fully compatible with the NED intuition. It is claimed that all we need to do to recognize their compatibility is appreciate that reliability is a dispositional property. In this paper I shall critically evaluate the Dispositionalist proposal. (shrink)
In “A well-founded solution to the generality problem,” Comesaña argues, inter alia, for three main claims. One is what I call the unavoidability claim: Any adequate epistemological theory needs to appeal, either implicitly or explicitly, to the notion of a belief’s being based on certain evidence. Another is what I call the legitimacy claim: It is perfectly legitimate to appeal to the basing relation in solving a problem for an epistemological theory. According to Comesaña, the legitimacy claim follows straightforwardly from (...) the unavoidability claim. The third one is what I call the basing solution claim: An appeal to the notion of basing relation is all we need to solve the generality problem for (process) reliabilism. In this paper, I will argue that the unavoidability claim and the basing solution claim are false and that the legitimacy claim might be true only in a qualified sense. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that justification is defeasible, e.g. that under certain conditions counterevidence removes prior justification of beliefs. In this paper I will first (sect. 1) explain why this feature of justification poses a prima facie problem for reliabilism. I then will try out different reliabilist strategies to deal with the problem. Among them I will discuss conservative strategies (sect. 2), eliminativist stragies (sect. 3) and revisionist strategies (sect. 4). In the final section I will present an improved (...) revisionist approach to defeaters that is able to overcome the main shortcomings of the other approaches. (shrink)
Fair lotteries offer familiar ways to pose a number of epistemological problems, prominently those of closure and of scepticism. Although these problems apply to many epistemological positions, in this paper I develop a variant of a lottery case to raise a difficulty with the reliabilist's fundamental claim that justification or knowledge is to be analyzed as a high truth-ratio (of the relevant belief-forming processes). In developing the difficulty broader issues are joined including fallibility and the relation of reliability to understanding.
Contemporary epistemologists typically define a priori justification as justification that is independent of sense experience. However, sense experience plays at least some role in the production of many paradigm cases of a priori justified belief. This raises the question of when experience is epistemically relevant to the justificatory status of the belief that is based on it. In this paper, I will outline the answers that can be given by the two currently dominant accounts of justification, i.e. evidentialism and (...) class='Hi'>reliabilism. While for the evidentialist, experience is epistemically relevant only if it is used as evidence, the reliabilist requires that the reliability of the relevant process depends on the reliability of experiential processes. I will argue that the reliabilist account accommodates our pre-theoretic classifications much better. In the final part of my paper I will use the reliabilist criterion to defend the a priori—a posteriori distinction against recent challenges by Hawthorne and Williamson. (shrink)
What bothers people about reliabilism as a theory of justified belief? It has yet to be formulated adequately, but most philosophical theories have that problem. People seem to be bothered by the very idea of reliabilism, with its apparent disregard for believers’ rationality and responsibility. Yet its supporters can’t seem to understand its opponents complaints. I believe that the conflict can be clarified, if not resolved, by drawing certain important distinctions.