Naturalness, veritism, and epistemic significance.

Synthese 203 (190) (2024)
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A particularly influential thesis about epistemic axiology is veritism: that true belief is the only basic, or fully non-derivative, epistemic value. One recent argument against veritism claims that the naturalness or joint-carvingness of beliefs is also a basic epistemic value. The basic epistemic value of naturalness is held to explain intuitions that true, natural beliefs have greater epistemic value than similar but unnatural beliefs. I argue that epistemic significance, rather than naturalness, can best explain any variations in the value of natural versus unnatural beliefs. Against claims that significance itself undermines veritism, I defend an account of significance that explains why the epistemic value of significance derives entirely from the value of truth. The account also shows how significance can be grounded in multiple features, while still deriving all its value from that of truth. As a result, the epistemic value of natural beliefs offers little reason to abandon veritism, in the absence of stronger arguments favoring the basic epistemic value of naturalness.

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Reuben Sass
Rice University


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