The Structure of Defeat: Pollock's Evidentialism, Lackey's Framework, and Prospects for Reliabilism

In Jessica Brown & Mona Simion (eds.), Reasons, Justification, and Defeat. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press (2021)
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Epistemic defeat is standardly understood in either evidentialist or responsibilist terms. The seminal treatment of defeat is an evidentialist one, due to John Pollock, who famously distinguishes between undercutting and rebutting defeaters. More recently, an orthogonal distinction due to Jennifer Lackey has become widely endorsed, between so-called doxastic (or psychological) and normative defeaters. We think that neither doxastic nor normative defeaters, as Lackey understands them, exist. Both of Lackey’s categories of defeat derive from implausible assumptions about epistemic responsibility. Although Pollock’s evidentialist view is superior, the evidentialism per se can be purged from it, leaving a general structure of defeat that can be incorporated in a reliabilist theory that is neither evidentialist nor responsibilist in any way.

Author Profiles

Jack Lyons
University of Glasgow
Peter Graham
University of California, Riverside


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