Disqualifying ‘Disqualifiers’

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (2):202-214 (2022)
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In addition to the notion of defeat, do we need to expand the epistemological repertoire used in accounting for the context dependence of justification? It has recently been argued that we ought to admit a hitherto unrecognized fundamental epistemic kind called ‘disqualifiers’. Disqualifiers are taken to be not reducible to any other epistemic notion. Rather, they are meant to be primitive. If this is correct, it is a surprising and novel discovery, and so it is worthy of further epistemological investigation. In this paper I shall first argue that the cases given do not motivate positing the notion of a disqualifier. Conclusions drawn about the existence of disqualifiers do not follow from the considerations advanced. Second, I shall directly argue that an essential core claim of those who would posit disqualifiers, that so-called disqualifiers actually do prevent epistemic bases from conferring justification, is false. In sum, I shall argue that there are no disqualifiers.

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B. J. C. Madison
United Arab Emirates University


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