Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Richard A. Fumerton
Our beliefs utilize various sources: perception, memory, induction, etc. We trust these sources to provide reliable information about the world around us. My dissertation investigates how this trust could be justified.
Chapter one introduces background material. I argue that justification rather than knowledge is of primary epistemological importance, discuss the internalism/externalism debate(s), and introduce an evidentialist thesis that provides a starting point/framework for epistemological theorizing.
Chapter two introduces a puzzle concerning justification. Can a belief source provide justification absent prior justification for believing it's reliable? Any answer appears to either make justifying the reliability of a source intellectually unsatisfying or all together impossible.
Chapter three considers and rejects a plethora of proposed solutions to our puzzle. Investigating these solutions illustrates the need to further investigate evidence, evidence possession, and evidential support.
Chapter four discusses the metaphysics of evidence. I argue that evidence always consists of a set of facts and that fact-proposition pairs stand in confirmation relations isomorphic to those holding between pairs of propositions.
Chapter five argues that justification requires what I call actually connected possession of supporting evidence: a subject must be aware of supporting evidence and of the support relation itself.
Chapter six argues that the relation constitutive of a set of facts being justificatory evidence is a sui generis and irreducible relation that is knowable a priori.
Chapter seven begins by showing how Richard Fumerton's acquaintance theory meets the constraints on a theory of justification laid down in previous chapters. I modify the theory so as to: (i) make room for fallible foundational justification, and (ii) allow inferential justification absent higher-order beliefs about evidential connections.
Chapter eight applies the developed theory of justification to our initial puzzle. I show how my modified acquaintance theory is in a unique position to vindicate the idea that necessarily a source provides a person with justification only if she is aware of evidence for the reliability of that source. However, this awareness of evidence for a source's reliability falls short of a justified belief and thereby avoids impalement from our dilemma's skeptical horn.
Copyright 2013 Samuel Alexander Taylor
Taylor, Samuel Alexander. "The Problem of Easy Justification: An Investigation of Evidence, Justification, and Reliability." PhD diss., University of Iowa, 2013.