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Believing One's Reasons Are Good

Adam Leite
Synthese
Vol. 161, No. 3, Epistemic Deontologism (Apr., 2008), pp. 419-441
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27653704
Page Count: 23
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Believing One's Reasons Are Good
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Abstract

Is it coherent to suppose that in order to hold a belief responsibly, one must recognize something else as a reason for it? This paper addresses this question by focusing on so-called "Inferential Internalist" principles, that is principles of the following form: in order for one to have positive epistemic status Ø in virtue of believing P on the basis of R, one must believe that R evidentially supports P, and one must have positive epistemic status Ø in relation to that latter belief as well. While such principles and their close relatives figure centrally in a wide variety of recent epistemological discussions, there is confusion in the literature about what, precisely, Inferential Internalism commits one to and whether it is so much as coherent. This paper (1) articulates a broader framework for understanding the notion of epistemic responsibility, (2) motivates Inferential Internalism on the basis of considerations about the basing relation, epistemic responsibility, and parallels with practical deliberation, (3) defends Inferential Internalism against charges of incoherence leveled by James Van Cleve and Paul Boghossian, and (4) shows that contrary to a currently widespread view, Inferential Internalism is coherent even if foundationalism and the a priori are rejected. The paper closes with a preliminary argument for an affirmative answer to the initiating question about the requirements of epistemic responsibility.

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