Justification as faultlessness

Philosophical Studies 174 (4):901-926 (2017)
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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 and strong necessity modals 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.
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