Philosophical Studies

, Volume 164, Issue 1, pp 93–111 | Cite as

Justification magnets

  • C. S. I. Jenkins


David Lewis is associated with the controversial thesis that some properties are more eligible than others to be the referents of our predicates solely in virtue of those properties’ being more natural; independently, that is, of anything to do with our patterns of usage of the relevant predicates. On such a view, the natural properties act as ‘reference magnets’. In this paper I explore (though I do not endorse) a related thesis in epistemology: that some propositions are ‘justification magnets’. According to the doctrine of justification magnetism, we have better justification for some propositions than for others solely in virtue of certain features of those propositions; independently, that is, of anything to do with evidential support or cognitive accomplishment. In the course of discussing an objection to justification magnetism I describe (though I do not endorse) a novel approach to epistemology akin to interpretationism in the theory of reference.


Justification Reference Reference magnets David Lewis Epistemology Interpretationism 



Many thanks to Trent Dougherty, Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa, Daniel Nolan, Brian Weatherson, and J. Robert G. Williams for comments on earlier drafts, to participants at the University of British Columbia Spring Colloquium 2012, participants at the Paris-Sorbonne Metaphysical Knowledge Conference 2012, participants at the Northern Institute of Philosophy Conference on the A Priori 2012, especially my commentator Aidan McGlynn, participants at the Leeds Indeterminacy Workshop of June 2012, and participants at the Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference 2012, especially my commentators Andrew Bailey and Sophie Horowitz. I acknowledge receipt of many excellent comments and suggestions that I’m unable to do full justice to in this paper, but hope to pursue in further work.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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