Robust Justification

In Scott Stapleford & Kevin McCain (eds.), Epistemic Duties: New Arguments, New Angles. Routledge (forthcoming)
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According to evidentialism, a subject is justified in believing a proposition at a time, just in case their evidence on balance supports that proposition at that time. Evidentialist justification is thus a property of fit – fitting the subject’s evidence. However, evidentialism does not evaluate the subject’s evidence beyond this relation of fit. For instance, evidentialism ignores whether the subject was responsible or negligent in their inquiry. A number of objections have been raised to evidentialism involving cases of irresponsible inquiry and the relevance of unpossessed evidence. In this paper, I argue that while these objections miss their mark, they do help motivate a distinct, and richer, concept of epistemic justification. This different concept of justification, what I call ‘robust justification’, supplements the evidentialist account of epistemic justification with an assessment of the subject’s evidence with respect to their inquiry. According to this proposal, to be robustly justified in believing a proposition at a time, the subject’s evidence must support that proposition at that time and that evidence must be the result of the subject’s responsible inquiry. While robust justification is not necessary for knowledge, I argue that it is an independently valuable epistemic state.
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