Discursive justification and skepticism
First Online: 07 March 2012 Received: 27 April 2011 Accepted: 31 January 2012 DOI:
Cite this article as: Gerken, M. Synthese (2012) 189: 373. doi:10.1007/s11229-012-0076-0 Abstract
In this paper, I consider how a general epistemic norm of action that I have proposed in earlier work should be specified in order to govern certain types of acts: assertive speech acts. More specifically, I argue that the epistemic norm of assertion is structurally similar to the epistemic norm of action. First, I argue that the notion of warrant operative in the epistemic norm of a central type of assertion is an internalist one that I call ‘discursive justification.’ This type of warrant is internalist insofar as it requires that the agent is capable of articulating reasons for her belief. The idea, roughly, is that when one asserts that p, one is supposed to be in a position to give reasons for believing that p. Bonjour’s reliable clairvoyant Norman, for example, is not in an epistemic position to make assertions regarding the president’s whereabouts—even if Norman knows the president’s whereabouts. In conclusion, I briefly consider whether a type of skeptical argument—often labeled Agrippa’s Trilemma—is motivated, at least in part, by the fact that responses to it violate the relevant epistemic norm of assertion.
Keywords Norms of assertion Skepticism Discursive justification Agrippa’s Trilemma Epistemic warrant Dogmatism References
Adler J. (2002) Belief’s own ethics. MIT Press, Cambridge
Alston W. (1989) Epistemic justification: Essays in the theory of knowledge. Cornell University Press, Ithaca
Audi R. (1993) The structure of justification. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Austin J. (1962) How to do things with words. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Bonjour L. (1985) The structure of empirical knowledge. MIT Press, Cambridge
Brandom R. (1983) Asserting. Noûs 17(4): 637–650
Brandom, R. (1994).
Making it explicit. Harvard University Press.
Brown J. (2010) Knowledge and assertion. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81(3): 549–566
Brown J. (2012) Assertion and practical reasoning: Common or divergent epistemic standards?. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84(1): 123–157
Brueckner A. (2010) Essays on skepticism. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Burge T. (2003) Perceptual entitlement. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67(3): 503–548
DeRose K. (1995) Solving the skeptical problem. Philosophical Review 104(1): 1–52
Douven I. (2006) Assertion, knowledge, and rational credibility. Philosophical Review 115(4): 449–486
Fogelin R. J. (1994) Pyrrhonian reflections on knowledge and justification. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Gerken M. (2011) Warrant and action. Synthese 178(3): 529–547
Gerken, M. (forthcoming a). Epistemic focal bias.
Australasian Journal of Philosophy
Gerken, M. (forthcoming b). Internalism and externalism in the epistemology of testimony.
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Gerken, M. (forthcoming c). Critical notice: Essays on skepticism.
International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
Grice P. (1989) Studies in the way of words. Harvard University Press, Cambridge
Graham, P. (forthcoming). Epistemic entitlement.
Hawthorne J., Stanley J. (2008) Knowledge and action. Journal of Philosophy 105(10): 571–590
Lackey J. (2007) Norms of assertion. Noûs 41(4): 594–626
Leite A. (2005) A localist solution to the regress of epistemic justification. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83(3): 395–421
MacFarlane J. (2011) What is assertion?. In: Brown J., Cappelen H. (eds) Assertion. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 79–98
Moser P. (1985) Empirical justification. Springer, New York
Pedersen, N. J. (Ms). Non-rational action in the face of disagreement.
Pryor J. (2000) The skeptic and the dogmatist. Noûs 34(4): 517–549
Rescorla M. (2009a) Assertion and its constitutive norms. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research LXXIX(1): 98–130
Rescorla M. (2009b) Epistemic and dialectical regress. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87(1): 43–60
Rescorla M. (2009c) Shifting the burden of proof?. Philosophical Quarterly 59(234): 88–109
Sosa E. (2007) A virtue epistemology. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Thompson, V. A. (2009). Dual-process theories: A metacognitive perspective. In Evans, J. & K. Frankish (Eds.),
In two minds: Dual processes and beyond (pp. 171–195). New York: Oxford University Press.
Turri J. (2010) Epistemic invariantism and speech act contextualism. Philosophical Review 119(1): 77–95
Turri, J. (forthcoming). Pyrrhonian skepticism meets speech-act theory.
International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
Watson G. (2004) Asserting and promising. Philosophical Studies 117: 57–77
Wright C. (1991) Scepticism and dreaming: Imploding the demon. Noûs 25(2): 205
Wright C. (2004) Warrant for nothing (and foundations for free)?. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78(1): 167–212
Wright C. (2008) Internal-external: Doxastic norms and the defusing of skeptical paradox. Journal of Philosophy 109(9): 501–517
Wright, S. (2011). Knowledge and social roles: A virtue approach.
Episteme, 8(1), 99–111 (Special Issue on Cognitive Ecology, Gerken et al. (eds.)).
Williams M. (2001) Problems of knowledge. Oxford University Press, New York
Williams M. (2004) The Agrippan argument and two forms of scepticism. In: Sinnott-Armstrong W. (eds) Pyrrhonian Scepticism. Oxford University Press, Oxford
Williamson T. (2000) Knowledge and its limits. Oxford University Press, Oxford
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012