The internalism-externalism debate is one of the oldest debates in epistemology. Internalists assert that the justification of our beliefs can only depend on facts internal to us, while externalists insist that justification can depend on additional, for example environmental, factors. Clayton Littlejohn proposes and defends a new strategy for resolving this debate. Focussing on the connections between practical and theoretical reason, he explores the question of whether the priority of the good to the right might be used to (...) defend an epistemological version of consequentialism, and proceeds to formulate a new 'deontological externalist' view. On this view, the justificatory status of a belief depends upon whether it is fit for the purposes of practical reasoning. Only beliefs that meet externalist standards are fit for such a purpose. If we want to understand how a wide range of norms (e.g., moral norms) apply to rational agents regardless of what their evidence or outlook is like, we have to embrace an externalist account of the justification. (shrink)
Ever since Plato it has been thought that one knows only if one's belief hits the mark of truth and does so with adequate justification. The issues debated by Laurence BonJour and Ernest Sosa concern mostly the nature and conditions of such epistemic justification, and its place in our understanding of human knowledge. Presents central issues pertaining to internalism vs. externalism and foundationalism vs. virtue epistemology in the form of a philosophical debate. Introduces students to fundamental questions within (...) epistemology while engaging in contemporary debates. Written by two of today’s foremost epistemologists. Includes an extensive bibliography. (shrink)
Virtually all philosophers agree that for a belief to be epistemically justified, it must satisfy certain conditions. Perhaps it must be supported by evidence. Or perhaps it must be reliably formed. Or perhaps there are some other "good-making" features it must have. But does a belief's justification also require some sort of awareness of its good-making features? The answer to this question has been hotly contested in contemporary epistemology, creating a deep divide among its practitioners. Internalists, who tend to (...) focus on scientific or theoretical beliefs as the ideal, insist that such awareness is required for justification. Externalists, who think children's ordinary beliefs in obvious facts are paradigm cases of justified belief, say it isn't required. Michael Bergmann's book offers a decisive refutation of internalism and a sustained defense of externalism. (shrink)
Richard Swinburne offers an original treatment of a question at the heart of epistemology: what makes a belief rational, or justified in holding? He maps the rival accounts of philosophers on epistemic justification ("internalist" and "externalist"), arguing that they are really accounts of different concepts. He distinguishes between synchronic justification (justification at a time) and diachronic justification (synchronic justification resulting from adequate investigation)--both internalist and externalist. He also argues that most kinds of justification are (...) worth having because they are indicative of truth; however, it is only justification of internalist kinds that can guide a believer's actions. Swinburne goes on to show the usefulness of the probability calculus in elucidating how empirical evidence makes beliefs probably true. (shrink)
An argument that takes issue with the contemporary epistemological consensus that justification is distinct from knowledge, proposing instead that justified belief simply is knowledge, and arguing in detail that a belief is justified when ...
Theories of emotional justification investigate the conditions under which emotions are epistemically justified or unjustified. I make three contributions to this research program. First, I show that we can generalize some familiar epistemological concepts and distinctions to emotional experiences. Second, I use these concepts and distinctions to display the limits of the ‘simple view’ of emotional justification. On this approach, the justification of emotions stems only from the contents of the mental states they are based on, also (...) known as their cognitive bases. The simple view faces the ‘gap problem’: If cognitive bases and emotions (re)present their objects and properties in different ways, then cognitive bases are not sufficient to justify emotions. Third, I offer a novel solution to the gap problem based on emotional dispositions. This solution (1) draws a line between the justification of basic and non-basic emotions, (2) preserves a broadly cognitivist view of emotions, (3) avoids a form of value skepticism that threatens inferentialist views of emotional justification, and (4) sheds new light on the structure of our epistemic access to evaluative properties. (shrink)
There is much to like about the idea that justification should be understood in terms of normality or normic support (Smith 2016, Goodman and Salow 2018). The view does a nice job explaining why we should think that lottery beliefs differ in justificatory status from mundane perceptual or testimonial beliefs. And it seems to do that in a way that is friendly to a broadly internalist approach to justification. In spite of its attractions, we think that the normic (...) support view faces two serious challenges. The first is that it delivers the wrong result in preface cases. These cases suggest that the view is either too sceptical or too externalist. The second is that the view struggles with certain kinds of Moorean absurdities. It turns out that these problems can easily be avoided. If we think of normality as a condition on *knowledge*, we can characterise justification in terms of its connection to knowledge and thereby avoid the difficulties discussed here. The resulting view does an equally good job explaining why we should think that our perceptual and testimonial beliefs are justified when lottery beliefs cannot be. Thus, it seems that little could be lost and much could be gained by revising the proposal and adopting a view on which it is knowledge, not justification, that depends directly upon normality. (shrink)
This paper will articulate and defend a novel theory of epistemic justification; I characterize my view as the thesis that justification is potential knowledge . My project is an instance of the ‘knowledge-first’ programme, championed especially by Timothy Williamson. So I begin with a brief recapitulation of that programme.
The New Evil Demon problem has been hotly debated since the case was introduced in the early 1980’s (e.g. Lehrer and Cohen 1983; Cohen 1984), and there seems to be recent increased interest in the topic. In a forthcoming collection of papers on the New Evil Demon problem (Dutant and Dorsch, forthcoming), at least two of the papers, both by prominent epistemologists, attempt to resist the problem by appealing to the distinction between justification and excuses. My primary aim here (...) is to critically evaluate this new excuse maneuver as a response to the New Evil Demon problem. -/- Their response attempts to give us reason to reject the idea that victims of the New Evil Demon have justification for believing as they do. I shall argue that this approach is ultimately unsuccessful, however much of value can be learned from these attempts. In particular, progress in the debate can be made by following those who advance the excuse maneuver and make explicit the connection between epistemic justification and epistemic norms. By doing so, the questions being debated are clarified, as is the methodology being used to attempt to answer them. (shrink)
A vital and underappreciated dimension of social interaction is the way individuals justify their actions to others, instinctively drawing on their experience to appeal to principles they hope will command respect. Individuals, however, often misread situations, and many disagreements can be explained by people appealing, knowingly and unknowingly, to different principles. On Justification is the first English translation of Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot's ambitious theoretical examination of these phenomena, a book that has already had a huge impact on (...) French sociology and is likely to have a similar influence in the English-speaking world. -/- In this foundational work of post-Bourdieu sociology, the authors examine a wide range of situations where people justify their actions. The authors argue that justifications fall into six main logics exemplified by six authors: civic (Rousseau), market (Adam Smith), industrial (Saint-Simon), domestic (Bossuet), inspiration (Augustine), and fame (Hobbes). The authors show how these justifications conflict, as people compete to legitimize their views of a situation. -/- On Justification is likely to spark important debates across the social sciences. (shrink)
This chapter is guided by the hypothesis that the point and purpose of using the concept of justification in epistemic evaluation is tied to its role in the practice of critical reflection. In section one, I propose an analysis of justification as the epistemic property in virtue of which a belief has the potential to survive ideal critical reflection. In section two, I use this analysis in arguing for a form of access internalism on which one has (...) class='Hi'>justification to believe a proposition if and only if one has higher-order justification to believe that one has justification to believe that proposition. In section three, I distinguish between propositional and doxastic versions of access internalism and argue that the propositional version avoids familiar objections to the doxastic version. In section four, I argue that the propositional version of access internalism also explains and vindicates internalist intuitions about cases. In section five, I conclude with some reflections on the relationship between critical reflection, responsibility and personhood. (shrink)
Public reason accounts commonly claim that exercises of coercive political power must be justified by appeal to reasons accessible to all citizens. Such accounts are vulnerable to the objection that they cannot legitimate coercion to protect basic liberal rights against infringement by deeply illiberal people. This paper first elaborates the distinctive interpersonal conception of justification in public reason accounts in contrast to impersonal forms of justification. I then detail a core dissenter-based objection to public reason based on a (...) worrisome example advanced by Jonathan Quong. While we may be able to impersonally justify coercing the illiberal dissenter, public reason liberals must explain how we can interpersonally justify such coercion—meaning justify given the perspective of the dissenter. The two prominent strategies for dealing with dissenters involve idealization of reasoning and requiring liberal values; I show that these strategies do not succeed in a way compatible with the public reason project. That is, the prominent strategies leave public reason theorists with a dilemma between denying the legitimacy of using coercion to protect core freedoms against deeply illiberal people or abandoning the fundamental public reason project. I conclude by proposing a different answer to public reason liberalism’s fundamental question: what requires justification? On my account, it is not that coercion requires interpersonal justification for its permissibility, but that such justification is necessary as a constitutive element of a kind of moral community. (shrink)
Can a belief source confer justification when we lack antecedent justification for believing that it’s reliable? A negative answer quickly leads to skepticism. A positive answer, however, seems to commit one to allowing pernicious reasoning known as “epistemic bootstrapping.” Puzzles surrounding bootstrapping arise because we illicitly assume either that justification requires doxastic awareness of a source’s epistemic credentials or that there is no requirement that a subject be aware of these credentials. We can resolve the puzzle by (...) splitting the horns and requiring a non-conceptual awareness of, or direct acquaintance with, a source’s legitimacy. Requiring non-conceptual as opposed to doxastic awareness halts the regress and avoids the skeptical results. On the other hand, requiring non-conceptual awareness also guarantees that we are aware of evidence for a source’s reliability prior to using that source to form justified beliefs; we thereby avoid the problem of allowing epistemic bootstrapping to generate the illicit gains in justification. (shrink)
Adequate epistemic justification is best conceived as the appearance, over time, of knowledge to the subject. ‘Appearance’ is intended literally, not as a synonym for belief. It is argued through consideration of examples that this account gets the extension of ‘adequately justified belief’ at least roughly correct. A more theoretical reason is then offered to regard justification as the appearance of knowledge: If we have a knowledge norm for assertion, we do our best to comply with this norm (...) when we express as assertions only beliefs that appear to us to be knowledge. If we are doing our best, there is little point in further sanctions. So a norm of knowledge for assertion would lead to a secondary norm of justified belief as the appearance of knowledge, marking a point at which our assertions may be corrected but should not be blamed. (shrink)
Conceptions of acceptability-based moral or political justification take it that authoritative acceptability, widely conceived, constitutes, or contributes to, validity, or justification. There is no agreement as to what bar for authoritativeness such justification may employ. The paper engages the issue in relation to (i) the level of idealization that a bar for authoritativeness, ψ, imparts to a standard of acceptability-based justification, S, and (ii) the degree of discursive purchase of the discursive standing that S accords to (...) people when it builds ψ. I argue that (i) and (ii) are interdependent: high idealization values entail low discursive purchase, while high degrees of purchase require low idealization values. I then distinguish between alethic conceptions of justification that prioritize ends that commit to high idealization values, and recognitive conceptions that favor high discursive purchase. On this basis, I argue for a moderately recognitivist constraint on idealization. To render the recognitive discursive minimum available to relevant people at the site of justification, S should set ψ low enough so that it is a genuine option for actual people to reject relevant views in ways that S recognizes as authoritative. (The Appendix applies this to a Forst-type view of reciprocity of reasons to draw out some limitations of this view.) [Draft available from author on request.]. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider how a general epistemic norm of action that I have proposed in earlier work should be specified in order to govern certain types of acts: assertive speech acts. More specifically, I argue that the epistemic norm of assertion is structurally similar to the epistemic norm of action. First, I argue that the notion of warrant operative in the epistemic norm of a central type of assertion is an internalist one that I call ‘discursive justification.’ (...) This type of warrant is internalist insofar as it requires that the agent is capable of articulating reasons for her belief. The idea, roughly, is that when one asserts that p, one is supposed to be in a position to give reasons for believing that p. Bonjour’s reliable clairvoyant Norman, for example, is not in an epistemic position to make assertions regarding the president’s whereabouts—even if Norman knows the president’s whereabouts. In conclusion, I briefly consider whether a type of skeptical argument—often labeled Agrippa’s Trilemma—is motivated, at least in part, by the fact that responses to it violate the relevant epistemic norm of assertion. (shrink)
Justification has long been considered a necessary condition for knowledge, and theories that deny the necessity of justification have been dismissed as nonstarters. In this chapter, we challenge this long-standing view by showing that many of the arguments offered in support of it fall short and by providing empirical evidence that individuals are often willing to attribute knowledge when epistemic justification is lacking.
Recent years have seen the rise of a new family of non-probabilistic accounts of epistemic justification. According to these views—we may call them Normalcy Views—a belief in P is justified only if, given the evidence, there exists no normal world in which S falsely beliefs that P. This paper aims to raise some trouble for this new approach to justification by arguing that Normalcy Views, while initially attractive, give rise to problematic accounts of epistemic defeat. As we will (...) see, on Normalcy Views seemingly insignificant pieces of evidence turn out to have considerable defeating powers. This problem—I will call it the Easy-Defeat Problem—gives rise to a two-pronged challenge. First, it shows that the Normalcy View has counterintuitive implications and, second, it opens the door to an uncomfortable skeptical threat. (shrink)
In his influential book, The Nature of Morality, Gilbert Harman writes: “In explaining the observations that support a physical theory, scientists typically appeal to mathematical principles. On the other hand, one never seems to need to appeal in this way to moral principles.” What is the epistemological relevance of this contrast, if genuine? This chapter argues that ethicists and philosophers of mathematics have misunderstood it. They have confused what the chapter calls the justificatory challenge for realism about an area, D—the (...) challenge to justify our D-beliefs—with the reliability challenge for D-realism—the challenge to explain the reliability of our D-beliefs. Harman’s contrast is relevant to the first, but not, evidently, to the second. One upshot of the discussion is that genealogical debunking arguments are fallacious. Another is that indispensability considerations cannot answer the Benacerraf–Field challenge for mathematical realism. (shrink)
It is often taken for granted by writers who propose--and, for that matter, by writers who oppose--'justifications' of inductions, that deduction either does not need, or can readily be provided with, justification. The purpose of this paper is to argue that, contrary to this common opinion, problems analogous to those which, notoriously, arise in the attempt to justify induction, also arise in the attempt to justify deduction.
In this paper, I offer two counterexamples to the so-called ‘Uniqueness Thesis.’ As one of these examples rely on the thesis that it is possible for a justified belief to be based on an inconsistent body of evidence, I also offer reasons for this further thesis. On the assumption that doxastic justification entails propositional justification, the counterexamples seem to work.
In this essay I will discuss the relationship between two of the most basic ideas in political and legal philosophy: the justification of the state and state legitimacy. I plainly cannot aspire here to a complete account of these matters; but I hope to be able to say enough to motivate a way of thinking about the relation between these notions that is, I believe, superior to the approach which seems to be dominant in contemporary political philosophy. Today showing (...) that a state is justified and showing that it is legitimate are typically taken to require the very same arguments. I will argue that this contemporary stance obscures the difference between two central ways in which we should morally evaluate states, and it generates confusions about other serious practical issues, such as those surrounding our moral obligations to comply with law. I begin with brief discussions of the ideas of justification and legitimacy and with an attempt to capture what ought to be most central in our concerns about these ideas. I turn then to two basic ways of thinking about the relation between justification and legitimacy that I want to distinguish: what I will call the Lockean and the Kantian approaches. Next, I argue that the minority Lockean approach to this issue captures essential features of institutional evaluation that the majority Kantian approach does not; and I add brief mention of one further complication facing any adequate account of political evaluation. (shrink)
It’s not implausible to think that whenever I have a justified noninferential belief that p, it is caused by a seeming that p. It’s also tempting to think that something contributes to the justification of my belief only if I hold my belief because of that thing. Thus, given that many of our noninferential beliefs are justified and that we hold them because of seemings, one might be inclined to hold a view like Phenomenal Conservatism, according to which seemings (...) play a crucial role—perhaps the only crucial role—in the justification of our noninferential beliefs. But Phenomenal Conservatism seems to conflict, in a number of ways, with externalist accounts of justification. As a result, the attractiveness of the intuitions appealed to in support of views like Phenomenal Conservatism present something of a challenge to externalism. The purpose of this paper is to deal with that challenge by developing and defending an externalist-friendly account of the role of seemings in the formation and justification of our noninferential beliefs—an account that incorporates what is attractive in views like Phenomenal Conservatism. Because this externalist-friendly account is compatible with both externalist accounts of justification and the plausible elements of views like Phenomenal Conservatism, the challenge to externalism inspired by such views is thereby undermined. (shrink)
According to a traditional Cartesian epistemology of perception, perception does not provide one with direct knowledge of the external world. Instead, your immediate perceptual evidence is limited to facts about your own visual experience, from which conclusions about the external world must be inferred. Cartesianism faces well-known skeptical challenges. But this chapter argues that any anti-Cartesian view strong enough to avoid these challenges must license a way of updating one’s beliefs in response to anticipated experiences that seems diachronically irrational. To (...) avoid this result, the anti-Cartesian must either license an unacceptable epistemic chauvinism, or else claim that merely reflecting on one’s experiences defeats perceptual justification. This leaves us with a puzzle: Although Cartesianism faces problems, avoiding them brings a new set of problems. (shrink)
A central issue in epistemology concerns the connection between truth and justification. The burden of our paper is to explain this connection. Reliabilism, defended by Goldman, assumes that the connection is one of reliability. We argue that this assumption is too strong. We argue that foundational theories, such as those articulated by Pollock and Chisholm fail to elucidate the connection. We consider the potentiality of coherence theories to explain the truth connection by means of higher level convictions about probabilities, (...) which we call doxastic ascent, and defend such a theory. Our defense appeals to the work of Reid and contemporary cognitive psychology in order to account for the psychological reality of higher level evaluations. (shrink)
Some bioethicists argue that conscientious objectors in health care should have to justify themselves, just as objectors in the military do. They should have to provide reasons that explain why they should be exempt from offering the services that they find offensive. There are two versions of this view in the literature, each giving different standards of justification. We show these views are each either too permissive (i.e. would result in problematic exemptions based on conscience) or too restrictive (i.e. (...) would produce problematic denials of exemption). We then develop a middle ground position that we believe better combines respect for the conscience of healthcare professionals with concern for the duties that they owe to patients. Our claim, in short, is that insofar as objectors should have to justify themselves, they should have to do it according to the standard that we defend rather than according to the standards that others have developed. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis that epistemic justification for belief supervenes on evidential support. However, we claim there are cases in which, even though two subjects have the same evidential support for a proposition, only one of them is justified. What make the difference are pragmatic factors, factors having to do with our cares and concerns. Our argument against evidentialism is not based on intuitions about particular cases. Rather, we aim to provide a theoretical basis for rejecting evidentialism by defending (...) a “pragmatic” necessary condition on epistemic justification. We argue for the following necessary condition for justification: S is justified in believing that p only if S is rational to prefer (and, hence, act) as if p. In light of this necessary condition, the price of evidentialism is skepticism, or something close to it. (shrink)
According to a captivating picture, epistemic justification is essentially a matter of epistemic or evidential likelihood. While certain problems for this view are well known, it is motivated by a very natural thought—if justification can fall short of epistemic certainty, then what else could it possibly be? In this paper I shall develop an alternative way of thinking about epistemic justification. On this conception, the difference between justification and likelihood turns out to be akin to the (...) more widely recognised difference between ceteris paribus laws and brute statistical generalisations. I go on to discuss, in light of this suggestion, issues such as classical and lottery-driven scepticism as well as the lottery and preface paradoxes. (shrink)
This essay grows out of the conviction that recent work by psychologists studying human reasoning has important implications for a broad range of philosophical issues. To illustrate our thesis we focus on Nelson Goodman's elegant and influential attempt to "dissolve" the problem of induction. In the first section of the paper we sketch Goodman's account of what it is for a rule of inference to be justified. We then marshal empirical evidence indicating that, on Goodman's account of justification, patently (...) invalid inferential rules turn out to be "justified." We conclude that something is seriously wrong with Goodman's story about justification. In the second section we attempt to patch Goodman's account. The notion of epistemic authority and the social aspect of justification play central roles in the alternative account of justification that we propose. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to offer an account of epistemic justification suitable for the context of theory pursuit, that is, for the context in which new scientific ideas, possibly incompatible with the already established theories, emerge and are pursued by scientists. We will frame our account paradigmatically on the basis of one of the influential systems of epistemic justification: Laurence Bonjour’s coherence theory of justification. The idea underlying our approach is to develop a set of (...) criteria which indicate that the pursued system is promising of contributing to the epistemic goal of robustness of scientific knowledge and of developing into a candidate for acceptance. In order to realize this we will (a) adjust the scope of Bonjour’s standards—consistency, inferential density, and explanatory power, and (b) complement them by the requirement of a programmatic character. In this way we allow for the evaluation of the “potential coherence” of the given epistemic system. (shrink)
According to deontological approaches to justification, we can analyze justification in deontic terms. In this paper, I try to advance the discussion of deontological approaches by applying recent insights in the semantics of deontic modals. Specifically, I use the distinction between weak necessity modals and strong necessity modals to make progress on a question that has received surprisingly little discussion in the literature, namely: ‘What’s the best version of a deontological approach?’ The two most obvious hypotheses are the (...) Permissive View, according to which justified expresses permission, and the Obligatory View, according to which justified expresses some species of obligation. I raise difficulties for both of these hypotheses. In light of these difficulties, I propose a new position, according to which justified expresses a property I call faultlessness, defined as the dual of weak necessity modals. According to this view, an agent is justified in phi-ing iff it’s not the case that she should [/ought] not phi. I argue that this ‘Faultlessness View’ gives us precisely what’s needed to avoid the problems facing the Permissive and Obligatory Views. (shrink)
An influential proposal is that knowledge involves safe belief. A belief is safe, in the relevant sense, just in case it is true in nearby metaphysically possible worlds. In this paper, I introduce a distinct but complementary notion of safety, understood in terms of epistemically possible worlds. The main aim, in doing so, is to add to the epistemologist’s tool-kit. To demonstrate the usefulness of the tool, I use it to advance and assess substantive proposals concerning knowledge and justification.
My focus will be on two questions about Moore’s justification to believe the premises and the conclusion of the argument above. At stake is what makes it possible for our experiences to justify our beliefs, and what makes it possible for us to be justified in disbelieving skeptical..
According to political liberalism, laws must be justified to all citizens in order to be legitimate. Most political liberals have taken this to mean that laws must be justified by appeal to a specific class of ‘public reasons’, which all citizens can accept. In this paper I defend an alternative, convergence, model of public justification, according to which laws can be justified to different citizens by different reasons, including reasons grounded in their comprehensive doctrines. I consider three objections to (...) such an account—that it undermines sincerity in public reason, that it underestimates the importance of shared values, and that it is insufficiently deliberative—and argue that convergence justifications are resilient to these objections. They should therefore be included within a theory of political liberalism, as a legitimate form of public justification. This has important implications for the obligations that political liberalism places upon citizens in their public deliberations and reason-giving, and might make the theory more attractive to some of its critics, particularly those sympathetic to religious belief. (shrink)
Preservationism is a dominant account of the justification of beliefs formed on the basis of memory. According to preservationism, a memory belief is justified only if that belief was justified when it was initially held. However, we now know that much of what we remember is not explicitly stored, but instead reconstructed when we attempt to recall it. Since reconstructive memory beliefs may not have been continuously held by the agent, or never held before at all, a purely preservationist (...) account of memory does not allow for justified reconstructed memory beliefs. In this essay, I show how a process reliabilist account can maintain preservationism about reproductive memory beliefs while accommodating the justification of reconstructive memory beliefs. I argue that reconstructive memory is an inferential process, and that therefore the beliefs it produces are justified in the same way that other inferential beliefs are justified. Accordingly, my process reliabilist account combines a preservationist account of reproductive memory with an inferential account of reconstructive memory. I end by defending this view against objections. (shrink)
Today it is generally assumed that epistemic justification comes in degrees. The consequences, however, have not been adequately appreciated. In this paper we show that the assumption invalidates some venerable attacks on infinitism: once we accept that epistemic justification is gradual, an infinitist stance makes perfect sense. It is only without the assumption that infinitism runs into difficulties.
A distinctive position in contemporary political philosophy is occupied by those who defend the principle of public justification. This principle states that the moral or political rules that govern our common life must be in some sense justifiable to all reasonable citizens. In this article, I evaluate Gerald Gaus’s defence of this principle, which holds that it is presupposed by our moral reactive attitudes of resentment and indignation. He argues, echoing P.F. Strawson in ‘Freedom and Resentment’, that these attitudes (...) are so deep a part of us that we are unable to rationally reject them. I examine and reject this defence of the principle. Considering the nature of our commitment to the moral reactive attitudes, I argue that those attitudes need not be grounded in a commitment to public justification. The availability of alternative grounds for these attitudes shows, contra Gaus, that we can rationally reject the principle of public justification while maintaining a wholehearted commitment to the reactive attitudes. (shrink)
The distinction between justifications and excuses is a familiar one to most of us who work either in moral philosophy or legal philosophy. But exactly how it should be understood is a matter of considerable disagreement. My aim in this paper is, first, to sort out the differences and try to figure out what underlying disagreements account for them. I give particular attention to the following question: Does a person who acts on a reasonable but mistaken belief have a (...) class='Hi'>justification, or only an excuse? One disagreement I highlight concerns the extent to which justification is primarily about agents rather than about actions. Those who think, as I do, of “His action, X, was justified” as “He was justified in doing X” are far more likely to allow that justification requires reasonable belief and does not require truth, than are those who think of “His action, X, was justified” as “Although actions of this type usually are prohibited, X is in these circumstances in fact permissible.” In addition to sorting out the differences and tracing them to some underlying disagreements, I defend the reasonable belief view of justification against some objections, and argue that, whether or not we continue to use the term “justified” in a way that does not require truth, we need the concept. Contrary to the claims of some who reject the reasonable belief view of justification, justification thus understood does not reduce to excuse. (shrink)
I drive a wedge between public deliberation and public justification, concepts tightly associated in public reason liberalism. Properly understood, the ideal of public justification imposes no restraint on citizen deliberation but requires that those who have a substantial impact on the use of coercive power, political officials, advance proposals each person has sufficient reason to accept. I formulate this idea as the Principle of Convergent Restraint and apply it to legislators to illustrate the general reorientation I propose for (...) the public reason project. (shrink)
The paper challenges the view that public justification sits well with emancipatory and egalitarian intuitions. I distinguish between the depth, scope and the purchase of the discursive standing that such justification allocates, and situate within this matrix Rawls’s view of public justification. A standard objection to this view is that public justification should be more inclusive in scope. This is both plausible and problematic in emancipatory and egalitarian terms. If inclusive public justification allocates discursive standing (...) that is rich in purchase, as seems desirable in emancipatory terms, it may be unable to allocate equal standing to all relevant people. And if it is to allocate equal standing, then the equality of that standing should be construed in terms that allow for unequal discursive purchase. (shrink)
When we say that someone knows something we are making a value judgment—we are saying that there is something intellectually good or right about the person’s belief, or about the way she believes it, or perhaps about her. We are saying, for example, that her belief is intellectually better than someone else’s mere opinion. Notice that we might make this sort of value judgment even if the two persons agree. Suppose that two people agree that the earth is the third (...) planet from the sun. Nevertheless, we might think that one person knows this while the other person merely believes it. If so, we are making a value judgment—we are saying that there is something intellectually better going on in the case of knowledge. Another way to put the point is to say that knowledge is a normative notion. There is something normatively better about the case of knowledge, as opposed to the case of mere opinion, or even the case of true opinion. Finally, saying that someone knows something is not the only sort of value judgment we can make about her belief. Even if we agree that some belief falls short of knowledge, we might nevertheless judge that it is justified, or rational, or reasonable, or responsible. In each such case, we are saying that there is something normatively better about the case in question, as opposed to the case of mere opinion, or even the case of true opinion. (shrink)