Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 2, pp 483–501 | Cite as

Possessing epistemic reasons: the role of rational capacities

  • Eva SchmidtEmail author


In this paper, I defend a reasons-first view of epistemic justification, according to which the justification of our beliefs arises entirely in virtue of the epistemic reasons we possess. I remove three obstacles for this view, which result from its presupposition that epistemic reasons have to be possessed by the subject: (1) the problem that reasons-first accounts of justification are necessarily circular; (2) the problem that they cannot give special epistemic significance to perceptual experience; (3) the problem that they have to say that implicit biases provide epistemic. The first problem will be overcome by introducing presentational attitudes that are not in need of justification as basic ways of possessing epistemic reasons. The latter two problems will be solved by introducing epistemic rational capacities of two different kinds, which are exercised in mental states that are ways of possessing epistemic reasons, and by distinguishing these from mental states that are not exercises of epistemic rational capacities .


Epistemic reasons Reasons-first epistemology Justification Possessing reasons Superblindsight Implicit bias Rational capacities Virtue epistemology 



I’d like to thank participants of the conference on rational capacities at the University of Luxembourg for extremely helpful comments, in particular Alex Gregory, David Löwenstein, Susanne Mantel, and Daniel Star. I'm grateful for feedback on the manuscript to Hanjo Glock, Susanne Mantel (again), Anne Meylan, Oliver Petersen, Peter Schulte, and Daniel Whiting. Finally, I wish to thank an anonymous referee for this journal, who did an exemplary job.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ZürichZurichSwitzerland

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