Perceptual Justification: Factive Reasons and Fallible Virtues

In C. Mi, M. Slote & E. Sosa (eds.), Moral and Intellectual Virtues in Western and Chinese Philosophy. Routledge (2016)
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Two different versions of epistemological disjunctivism have recently been upheld in the literature: a traditional, Justified True Belief Epistemological Disjunctivism (JTBED) and a Knowledge First Epistemological Disjunctivism (KFED). JTBED holds that factive reasons of the form “S sees that p” provide the rational support in virtue of which one has perceptual knowledge, while KFED holds that factive reasons of the form “S sees that p” just are ways of knowing that p which additionally provide justification for believing that p. We argue that both accounts remain ultimately unsatisfactory. JTBED faces two formidable problems: first, it cannot account for animal knowledge, and, second, it does not offer a satisfactory account of how we access factive reasons. Although KFED can solve these two problems, it has some problems of its own. While intuitively knowledge is logically stronger than justified belief, on KFED it turns out to be weaker: knowledge does not entail justified belief, but justified belief does entail knowledge. Nevertheless, disjunctivists are right on at least a couple of points: we standardly justify our perceptual beliefs by appealing to factive reasons such as seeing that p and so factive reasons ought to play some role in our theory of justification. In addition, KFED’s account of our access to factive reasons also is spot on. Rather than going disjunctivist, these insights can be suitably incorporated into a Knowledge First Virtue Epistemology (KFVE).



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Author Profiles

Christoph Kelp
University of Glasgow
Harmen Ghijsen
Radboud University Nijmegen

References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
A virtue epistemology.Ernest Sosa - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
What is Justified Belief?Alvin I. Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.

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