Philosophical Studies

, Volume 157, Issue 3, pp 323-340

First online:

Movin’ on up: higher-level requirements and inferential justification

  • Chris TuckerAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Auckland Email author 

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Does inferential justification require the subject to be aware that her premises support her conclusion? Externalists tend to answer “no” and internalists tend to answer “yes”. In fact, internalists often hold the strong higher-level requirement that an argument justifies its conclusion only if the subject justifiably believes that her premises support her conclusion. I argue for a middle ground. Against most externalists, I argue that inferential justification requires that one be aware that her premises support her conclusion. Against many internalists, I argue that this higher-level awareness needn’t be doxastic or justified. I also argue that the required higher-level awareness needn’t be caused in some appropriate way, e.g. by a reliable or properly functioning faculty. I suspect that this weaker higher-level requirement is overlooked because, at first glance, it seems absurd to allow nondoxastic, unjustified, and unreliably-caused higher-level awareness to contribute to inferential justification. One of the central goals of this paper is to explain how such weak awareness can make an essential contribution to inferential justification.


Inferential justification Higher-level requirements Internalism Externalism Fumerton Awareness Subject’s perspective Inferential internalism