Epistemic normativity and the justification-excuse distinction

Synthese 194 (10):4065-4081 (2017)
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The paper critically examines recent work on justifications and excuses in epistemology. I start with a discussion of Gerken’s claim that the “excuse maneuver” is ad hoc. Recent work from Timothy Williamson and Clayton Littlejohn provides resources to advance the debate. Focusing in particular on a key insight in Williamson’s view, I then consider an additional worry for the so-called excuse maneuver. I call it the “excuses are not enough” objection. Dealing with this objection generates pressure in two directions: one is to show that excuses are a positive enough normative standing to help certain externalists with important cases; the other is to do so in a way that does not lead back to Gerken’s objection. I show how a Williamson-inspired framework is flexible enough to deal with both sources of pressure. Perhaps surprisingly, I draw on recent virtue epistemology.

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Cameron Boult
Brandon University

Citations of this work

Epistemic Blame.Cameron Boult - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (8):e12762.
The Significance of Epistemic Blame.Cameron Boult - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
Is higher-order evidence evidence?Eyal Tal - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3157-3175.
Standing to Epistemically Blame.Cameron Boult - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):11355-11375.
On Justifications and Excuses.B. J. C. Madison - 2018 - Synthese 195 (10):4551-4562.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
What is Justified Belief?Alvin Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
Justifications, Excuses, and Sceptical Scenarios.Timothy Williamson - forthcoming - In Fabian Dorsch & Julien Dutant (eds.), The New Evil Demon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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