Volume 3, Issue 3, 2012
Anthony Booth, Rik Peels
Epistemic Justification, Rights, and Permissibility
Can we understand epistemic justification in terms of epistemic rights? In this paper, we consider two arguments for the claim that we cannot and in doing so, we provide two arguments for the claim that we can. First, if, as many think, William James is right that the epistemic aim is to believe all true propositions and not to believe any false propositions, then there are likely to be situations in which believing (or disbelieving) a proposition serves one of these goals, whereas suspending judgement serves the other, equally important goal. Second, it is in principle always possible to have different epistemic standards for evaluating the evidence for the proposition in question, so that one can have a right to believe (or disbelieve) that proposition and a right to suspend judgement on it. Whereas the first consideration counts in favour of the idea that believing justifiedly is at least sometimes a matter of having an epistemic right, the latter consideration favours the view that believing justifiedly is always a matter of having an epistemic right.