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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 16, 1991

Robert Audi
Pages 473-492
DOI: 10.5840/jpr_1991_21

Structural Justification

This paper introduces and explicates a concept of justification not so far adequately treated in the epistemological literature. Structural justification for believing a proposition, p, is a kind implicit in one’s cognitive structure; it contrasts with (1) doxastic justification---justifiedly believing p; (2) situational justification---being justified in believing p (which is possible without believing it); and (3) propositional justification---the kind attributable to propositions for which suitable evidence is available. Structural justification is within one’s reach, but, unlike situational justification, not in one’s hands: one can construct a justification for p by reflecting on, say, one’s beliefs and memories, but does not already have that justification in an integrated form, as where one already believes premises that obviously entail p. Structural justification is accessible, however, through a justificatory path, and much of this paper is an account of the various kinds of path. The concluding section generalizes the notion of structural justification both to the other psychological attitudes---such as desires, intentions, and values---and to actions.

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