Epistemic Consent and Doxastic Justification

In Luis Oliveira & Paul Silva (eds.), Propositional and Doxastic Justification: New Essays on Their Nature and Significance. New York: Routledge. pp. 286-312 (2022)
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My starting point is what I call the Normative Authority Conception of justification, where S is justified in their belief that p at t (to some degree n) if and only if their believing that p at t is not ruled out by epistemic norms that have normative authority over S at t. With this in mind, this paper develops an account of doxastic justification by first developing an account of the normative authority of epistemic norms. Drawing from work in political philosophy, I argue that (a) the cognitive and evaluative commitments and concerns behind our actual practices of holding each other and ourselves accountable for our beliefs reveal which epistemic norms we have consented to be under, and that (b) it is because we have consented to be under the authority of these norms – by actually holding ourselves and others accountable to them – that they in turn have normative authority over us. By connecting the authority of epistemic norms to the authority we have over ourselves in this way, the resulting account of doxastic justification (i) explains why it can be appropriate to criticize, resent, or sanction someone for having unjustified beliefs, (ii) avoids the phenomena of normative alienation and normative parochialism, and (iii) respects the social and collective nature of epistemic justification.

Author's Profile

Luis R. G. Oliveira
University of Houston


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