Justification, knowledge, and normality

  • Clayton Littlejohn
  • Julien DutantEmail author


There is much to like about the idea that justification should be understood in terms of normality or normic support (Smith in Between probability and certainty, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016; Goodman and Salow in Philosophical Studies 175: 183–196, 2018). The view does a nice job explaining why we should think that lottery beliefs differ in justificatory status from mundane perceptual or testimonial beliefs. And it seems to do that in a way that is friendly to a broadly internalist approach to justification. In spite of its attractions, we think that the normic support view faces two serious challenges. The first is that it delivers the wrong result in preface cases. Such cases suggest that the view is either too sceptical or to externalist. The second is that the view struggles with certain kinds of Moorean absurdities. It turns out that these problems can easily be avoided. If we think of normality as a condition on knowledge, we can characterise justification in terms of its connection to knowledge and thereby avoid the difficulties discussed here. The resulting view does an equally good job explaining why we should think that our perceptual and testimonial beliefs are justified when lottery beliefs cannot be. Thus, it seems that little could be lost and much could be gained by revising the proposal and adopting a view on which it is knowledge, not justification that depends directly upon normality.


Justification Knowledge Normality Preface paradox Lottery paradox Moore’s paradox 



The authors would like to thank Alexander Bird, Branden Fitelson, Dan Greco, John Hawthorne, Francesco Praolini, Sven Rosenkranz, Sherri Roush, Bernhard Salow, Martin Smith, and Tim Williamson for discussing these issues with us. We would also like to thank an anonymous referee for this journal for their helpful comments.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.King’s College LondonStrand, LondonUK

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