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Durham e-Theses
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Epistemic justification as a normative concept

Booth, Anthony Robert (2005) Epistemic justification as a normative concept. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



There is a way of talking about epistemic justification that involves the notion of our being subject to epistemic obligations the failure to comply with makes us blameworthy, called the deontological conception. In this thesis, I defend the deontological conception against criticisms first levied by William Alston that it (a) implies doxastic voluntarism which is false and thereby violates the principle that ought implies can, and (b) is in tension with what is distinctive about the epistemic domain, namely its connection with the goal of believing truths and avoiding falsehoods. I argue that the extent to which (a) is problematic depends on the extent to which (b) is problematic. Further, that (b) IS not problematic to the deontological conception if we view it not as a way to cash out epistemic justification, but as a way to understand normativity in general. I do this by making a distinction between merely evaluative and deontological levels of appraisal and that it is only in the latter that the notion of an obligation functions. I argue that it is nonsensical to use sortal terms at the level of obligations, (where obligations carry the notion of blameworthiness), i.e. that there cannot be obligations from an epistemic point of view anymore than there can be obligations from an ethical point of view. However, sortal terms can be used to distinguish between differing types of reasons (which, on their own, operate at the merely evaluative level)" but because obligations only emerge out of a network of differing sorts of reasons, it does not make any sense to talk about different sorts of obligation. I strengthen that last claim up by arguing, against the evidentialist, that there are such things as non-epistemic reasons for belief

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2005
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:55

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