Synthese 136 (2):237 - 262 (2003)

Abstract
Critics of reliability theories of epistemic justificationoften claim that the `generality problem' is an insurmountabledifficulty for such theories. The generality problem is theproblem of specifying the level of generality at which abelief-forming process is to be described for the purposeof assessing its reliability. This problem is not asintractable as it seems. There are illuminating solutionsto analogous problems in the ethics literature. Reliabilistsought to attend to utilitarian approaches to choices betweeninfinite utility streams; they also ought to attend towelfarist approaches to social choice situations that donot demand full aggregation of individual welfares.These analogies suggest that the traditional `single number'approach to reliability is misguided. I argue that a newapproach – the `vector reliability' approach – is preferable.Vector reliability theories associate target beliefs withreliability vectors – that is, structured collections ofreliability numbers – and construct criteria of epistemicjustification that appeal to these vectors. The bulk of thetheoretical labor involved in a reliability account of epistemicjustification is thus transferred from picking a uniquereliability number to constructing a plausible criterionof epistemic justification.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1024791403375
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References found in this work BETA

Warrant and Proper Function.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
What is Justified Belief?Alvin Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.
The Practice of Moral Judgment.Barbara Herman - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (8):414.
Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism.David Lyons - 1965 - Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Why the Generality Problem is Everybody’s Problem.Michael A. Bishop - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):285 - 298.
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