The justification of comprehension-based beliefs

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (1):109-126 (2022)
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Abstract

What justifies our beliefs about what other people say? According to epistemic inferentialism​, the justification of comprehension-based beliefs depends on the justification of other beliefs, e.g., beliefs about what words the speaker uttered or even what sounds they produced. According to epistemic non-inferentialism, the justification of comprehension-based beliefs ​does not depend on the justification of other beliefs. This paper offers a new defense of epistemic non-inferentialism. First, I discuss three counterexamples to epistemic non-inferentialism provided recently by Brendan Balcerak Jackson. I argue that only one of Balcerak Jackson’s counterexamples is effective, and that it is effective against only one version of epistemic non-inferentialism, viz. language comprehension dogmatism. Second, I propose an alternative version of epistemic non-inferentialism, viz. comprehension-process reliabilism, which is immune to these counterexamples. I conclude that we should follow Balcerak Jackson in his rejection of language comprehension dogmatism but not all the way to the endorsement of epistemic inferentialism. Comprehension-process reliabilism is superior to both these alternatives.

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J. P. Grodniewicz
Jagiellonian University

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