Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 4, pp 901–926 | Cite as

Justification as faultlessness

  • Bob Beddor


According to deontological approaches to justification, we can analyze justification in deontic terms. In this paper, I try to advance the discussion of deontological approaches by applying recent insights in the semantics of deontic modals. Specifically, I use the distinction between weak necessity modals (should, ought to) and strong necessity modals (must, have to) to make progress on a question that has received surprisingly little discussion in the literature, namely: ‘What’s the best version of a deontological approach?’ The two most obvious hypotheses are the Permissive View, according to which justified expresses permission, and the Obligatory View, according to which justified expresses some species of obligation. I raise difficulties for both of these hypotheses. In light of these difficulties, I propose a new position, according to which justified expresses a property I call faultlessness, defined as the dual of weak necessity modals. According to this view, an agent is justified in \(\phi\)-ing iff it’s not the case that she should [/ought] not \(\phi\). I argue that this ‘Faultlessness View’ gives us precisely what’s needed to avoid the problems facing the Permissive and Obligatory Views.


Justification Permission Weak necessity Strong necessity Duals Lottery paradox 



Special thanks to Andy Egan, Alvin Goldman, Simon Goldstein, Carlotta Pavese, Kat Przyjemski, Jonathan Schaffer, Max Sechman, Susanna Siegel, Paul Silva, Ernie Sosa, and an anonymous referee at Philosophical Studies for extensive comments. My thanks also to David Black, Will Fleisher, Daniel Fogal, Georgi Gardiner, Mike Hicks, Ezra Keshet, Nico Kirk-Giannini, Thomas Kroedel, Stephanie Leary, Martin Lin, Kurt Sylvan, and audiences at UC-Boulder, the University of Edinburgh, the National University of Singapore, and the 2016 meeting of the Eastern APA for helpful feedback and discussion.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PhilosophyKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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