A Causal Aspect of Epistemic Basing

  • Robert K. Shope
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 404)


An epistemologist who treats one’s having a justified belief that p as a requirement for one’s knowing that p typically maintains that at least sometimes that justified status arises in virtue of (possessing/appreciating/deploying) reasons for which one believes that p. It continues to be controversial whether there must be a causal aspect of the relationship—call it the epistemic basing relationship—between (possessing/appreciating/deploying) those reasons and believing that p. Previous causal accounts of epistemic basing have overlooked a candidate for such a causal aspect that I shall explore. I shall argue that by requiring this aspect we avoid certain puzzles faced by prior accounts formulated in terms of causes, including Peter D. Klein’s worry that those accounts run an empirical risk of allowing general skepticism, since we still understand so little about what causes believing. I shall also consider how the requirement that I propose relates to several well-known attempts by Keith Lehrer to construct counterexamples to various conditions of basing that mention causation. My goal is not to present a full analysis of epistemic basing but only to highlight the merits of one candidate for a necessary condition that specifies a causal aspect of it, that is, an aspect whose description refers at some point to causation.


Epistemic basing Deploying reasons Causal basing Lehrer Privations Etiology Anscombe Internal reliability Epistemology 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert K. Shope
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MassachusettsBostonUSA

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