Prime Time (for the Basing Relation)

In J. Adam Carter & Patrick Bondy (eds.), Well Founded Belief: New Essays on the Epistemic Basing Relation (2020)
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It is often assumed that believing that p for a normative reason consists in nothing more than (i) believing that p for a reason and (ii) that reason’s corresponding to a normative reason to believe that p, where (i) and (ii) are independent factors. This is the Composite View. In this paper, we argue against the Composite View on extensional and theoretical grounds. We advocate an alternative that we call the Prime View. On this view, believing for a normative reason is a distinctive achievement that isn’t exhausted by the mere conjunction of (i) and (ii). Its being an achievement entails that (i) and (ii) are not independent when one believes for a normative reason: minimally, (i) must hold because (ii) holds. Apart from its intrinsic interest, our discussion has important upshots for central issues in epistemology, including the analysis of doxastic justification, the epistemology of perception, and the place of competence in epistemology.

Author Profiles

Errol Lord
University of Pennsylvania
Kurt Sylvan
University of Southampton


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