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What Justification Could Not Be

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I begin by asking the meta-epistemological question, 'What is justification?', analogous to the meta-ethical question, 'What is rightness?' I introduce the possibility of non-cognitivist, naturalist, non-naturalist, and eliminativist answers in meta-epistemology,corresponding to those in meta-ethics. I devote special attention to the naturalistic hypothesis that epistemic justification is identical to probability, showing its antecedent plausibility. I argue that despite this plausibility, justification cannot be identical with probability, under the standard interpretation of the probability calculus, for the simple reason that justification can increase indefinitely but probability cannot. I then propose an alternative model for prima facie justification, based on an analogy with Ross's account of prima facie obligation, arguing that this model illuminates the differences between justification and probability and, given the plausible assumption of epistemic pluralism, explains them as well.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-08-01

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