Just do it? When to do what you judge you ought to do

Synthese 195 (9):3755-3772 (2018)
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While it is generally believed that justification is a fallible guide to the truth, there might be interesting exceptions to this general rule. In recent work on bridge-principles, an increasing number of authors have argued that truths about what a subject ought to do are truths we stand in some privileged epistemic relation to and that our justified normative beliefs are beliefs that will not lead us astray. If these bridge-principles hold, it suggests that justification might play an interesting role in our normative theories. In turn, this might help us understand the value of justification, a value that's notoriously difficult to understand if we think of justification as but a fallible means to a desired end. We will argue that these bridge-principles will be incredibly difficult to defend. While we do not think that normative facts necessarily stand in any interesting relationship to our justified beliefs about them, there might well be a way of defending the idea that our justified beliefs about what to do won't lead us astray. In turn, this might help us understand the value of justification, but this way of thinking about justification and its value comes with costs few would be willing to pay.

Author Profiles

Julien Dutant
King's College London
Clayton Littlejohn
Australian Catholic University


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