Mind 130 (517):59-83 (2021)

Wes Siscoe
University of Cologne
It is clear that beliefs can be assessed both as to their justification and their rationality. What is not as clear, however, is how the rationality and justification of belief relate to one another. Stewart Cohen has stumped for the popular proposal that rationality and justification come to the same thing, that rational beliefs just are justified beliefs, supporting his view by arguing that ‘justified belief’ and ‘rational belief’ are synonymous. In this paper, I will give reason to think that Cohen’s argument is spurious. I will show that ‘rational’ and ‘justified’ occupy two distinct semantic categories – ‘rational’ is an absolute gradable adjective and ‘justified’ is a relative gradable adjective – telling against the thought that ‘rational belief’ and ‘justified belief’ are synonymous. I will then argue that the burden of proof is on those who would equate rationality and justification, making the case that those who hold this prominent position face the difficulty of explaining how rationality and justification come to the same thing even though ‘rational’ and ‘justified’ are not synonymous.
Keywords Epistemic Justification  Rationality  Gradable Adjectives
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzaa021
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References found in this work BETA

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