The justification of comprehension-based beliefs

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (1):109-126 (2022)
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What justifies our beliefs about what other people say? According to epistemic inferentialism​, the justification of comprehension-based beliefs depends on the justification of other beliefs, e.g., beliefs about what words the speaker uttered or even what sounds they produced. According to epistemic non-inferentialism, the justification of comprehension-based beliefs ​does not depend on the justification of other beliefs. This paper offers a new defense of epistemic non-inferentialism. First, I discuss three counterexamples to epistemic non-inferentialism provided recently by Brendan Balcerak Jackson. I argue that only one of Balcerak Jackson’s counterexamples is effective, and that it is effective against only one version of epistemic non-inferentialism, viz. language comprehension dogmatism. Second, I propose an alternative version of epistemic non-inferentialism, viz. comprehension-process reliabilism, which is immune to these counterexamples. I conclude that we should follow Balcerak Jackson in his rejection of language comprehension dogmatism but not all the way to the endorsement of epistemic inferentialism. Comprehension-process reliabilism is superior to both these alternatives.

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J. P. Grodniewicz
Jagiellonian University

Citations of this work

The representational structure of linguistic understanding.J. P. Grodniewicz - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

What is Justified Belief?Alvin I. Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
The Modularity of Mind.Robert Cummins & Jerry Fodor - 1983 - Philosophical Review 94 (1):101.
Content preservation.Tyler Burge - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (4):457-488.

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