Deliberative Indispensability and Epistemic Justification

In Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 10. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 104-133 (2015)
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Many of us care about the existence of ethical facts because such facts appear crucial to making sense of our practical lives. On one tempting line of thought, this idea does more than raise the metaethical stakes: it can also play a central role in justifying our belief in those facts. In recent work, David Enoch has developed this tempting thought into a formidable new proposal in moral epistemology, that aims to explain how the deliberative indispensability of ethical facts gives us epistemic justification for believing in such facts. In this paper, we argue that Enoch’s proposal fails because it conflicts with a central fact about epistemic justification: that the norms of epistemic justification have the content that they do in part because of some positive connection between those norms and the truth of the beliefs that these norms govern. We then argue that the most salient alternatives to Enoch’s attempt to defend the idea that deliberative indispensability confers epistemic justification fail for parallel reasons. We conclude that the tempting line of thought should be rejected: deliberative indispensability does not provide epistemic justification.
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