Inferential justification

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Inferential justification

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Title: Inferential justification
Author: Fogdall, Stephen Andrew
Abstract: I aim to construct a partial account of inferential epistemic justification, the process by which epistemic justification is "transferred" from an evidentiary belief (or a set of such beliefs) to some further belief via inferential connections. The account focuses on two necessary conditions, similar versions of which have been widely discussed in the epistemological literature. The bulk of my dissertation is devoted to providing more detailed and exact formulations of these conditions than have previously been offered. Each is presented in an intuitive and rough formulation, meant to capture the spirit of the condition as discussed in the literature, and is then honed into a more precise and acceptable shape. The first condition, which I call the Basis Condition, requires in its rough and initial formulation that a subject's belief be correctly inferentially based on its evidentiary beliefs if the latter are to confer justification on it; the condition requires an actual, psychologically instantiated inference process which generates the belief from its evidence. I thus agree with recent "naturalized epistemologists" who argue that mere possession of evidence which supports a belief is not sufficient for that belief to be inferentially justified; one must actually use the evidence in forming the belief in question. I call the second condition which I take to be necessary for inferential justification the Access Condition. It requires of a subject that she not simply hold her belief on the basis of adequate evidence, but that she be able to tell on reflection that her belief is evidentially supported and casually sustained by that evidence. Antecedents of the Access Condition have been championed by so-called internalist epistemologists who hold that a belief is epistemically justified only if at least some of the factors responsible for its justification are available or accessible to the subject on reflection. The account of inferential justification which I offer can therefore be thought of as an attempt to make sense of internalism within the framework of naturalized epistemology.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 1997
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/5700

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