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Synthese

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 43–85 | Cite as

Justification, sociality, and autonomy

  • Frederick F. Schmitt
Article

Abstract

Theories of epistemically justified belief have long assumed individualism. In its extreme, or Lockean, form individualism rules out justified belief on testimony by insisting that a subject is justified in believing a proposition only if he or she possesses first-hand justification for it. The skeptical consequences of extreme individualism have led many to adopt a milder version, attributable to Hume, on which a subject is justified in believing a proposition only if he or she is justified in believing that there is testimony in favor of the proposition deriving from a reliable source. I argue that this Humean individualism also leads to skepticism in a wide range of cases; it makes it impossible for a layperson to be justified on expert testimony. In addition, I argue that the apparent motivation for the Humean view, an insistence on intellectual autonomy in justification, does not succeed in motivating it. I then explore the contours of a collectivist view of justification on testimony, with special attention to the place of a subject's intellectual autonomy in such justification. I try to bring empirical results of the psychology of persuasion to bear on the epistemological issues.

Keywords

Empirical Result Reliable Source Justify Belief Humean Individualism Form Individualism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick F. Schmitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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