Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Fumerton, Richard A.

First Committee Member

Cunning, David

Second Committee Member

Fales, Evan

Third Committee Member

Hasan, Ali

Fourth Committee Member

Landini, Gregory


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.


Acquaintance, Epistemology, Externalism, Internalism, Justification, Skepticism


xi, 373 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 360-373).


Copyright 2013 Samuel Alexander Taylor

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