On Justification, Idealization, and Discursive Purchase

Philosophia 47 (3):601-623 (2019)
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Conceptions of acceptability-based moral or political justification take it that authoritative acceptability constitutes, or contributes to, validity, or justification. There is no agreement as to what bar for authoritativeness such justification may employ. The paper engages the issue in relation to (i) the level of idealization that a bar for authoritativeness, ψ, imparts to a standard of acceptability-based justification, S, and (ii) the degree of discursive purchase of the discursive standing that S accords to people when it builds ψ. I argue that (i) and (ii) are interdependent: high idealization values entail low discursive purchase, while high degrees of purchase require low idealization values. I then distinguish between alethic conceptions of justification that prioritize ends that commit to high idealization values, and recognitive conceptions that favour high discursive purchase. On this basis, I argue for a moderately recognitivist constraint on idealization. To render the recognitive discursive minimum available to relevant people at the site of justification, S should set ψ low enough so that it is a genuine option for actual people to reject relevant views in ways that S recognizes as authoritative.

Author's Profile

Thomas M. Besch
Wuhan University


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