Dialectica 66 (4):517-541 (2012)

Ted Poston
University of Alabama
Epistemic conservatism is the thesis that the mere holding of a belief confers some positive epistemic status on its content. Conservatism is widely criticized on the grounds that it conflicts with the main goal in epistemology to believe truths and disbelieve falsehoods. In this paper I argue for conservatism and defend it from objections. First, I argue that the objection to conservatism from the truth goal in epistemology fails. Second, I develop and defend an argument for conservatism from the perspectival character of the truth goal. Finally, I examine several forceful challenges to conservatism and argue that these challenges are unsuccessful. The first challenge is that conservatism implies the propriety of assertions like ‘I believe p and this is part of my justification for it’. The second challenge argues that conservatism wrongly implies that the identity of an epistemic agent is relevant to the main goal of believing truths and disbelieving falsehoods. The last two challenges I consider are the ‘extra boost’ objection and the conversion objection. Each of these objections helps to clarify the nature of the conservative thesis. The upshot of the paper is that conservatism is an important and viable epistemological thesis.
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DOI 10.1111/dltc.2012.66.issue-4
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References found in this work BETA

What is Justified Belief?Alvin Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
Epistemic Operators.Fred Dretske - 1970 - Journal of Philosophy 67 (24):1007-1023.
Justification and Truth.Stewart Cohen - 1984 - Philosophical Studies 46 (3):279--95.

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