Syndicate Philosophy 1:1-8 (2016)

Georgi Gardiner
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
In Reason and Explanation Ted Poston advances an explanatory coherentist view of justification, according to which the justification of a person’s beliefs consists in how well those beliefs fit within a virtuous explanatory system. Poston argues that epistemic conservatism, which holds that in at least some cases belief itself generates epistemic merit, plays an essential role in such an account. Poston’s version of conservatism holds that “mere belief” – belief in cases of empty symmetrical evidence, where the subject lacks any evidence for or against the claim – generates justification for that belief. In this essay I challenge epistemic conservatism; I focus on concerns arising from Poston’s account of conservatism. I then suggest Poston’s view does not need epistemic conservatism and conclude that his project would be more cohesive and compelling if he were to jettison conservatism.
Keywords Coherentism  Epistemic Conservatism  Justification  Ted Poston
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