Epistemic justification puzzle
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The thesis explores the semantics of epistemic justification discourse, a very important part of overall epistemic discourse. It embarks from a critical examination of referentialist theories to arrive at a certain nonreferential, expressivist approach to the semantics of epistemic justification discourse. That is, it criticizes the main referentialist theories and then goes on to argue for an expressivist approach on the basis of its theoretical capacity to outflank the problems referentialist theories meet. In the end, I also identify some problems for a prominent expressivist theory and, as a response to these problems, propose a novel norm-expressivist approach that seems to evade these problems. In particular, in Ch.1 I introduce what I call ‘the epistemic justification puzzle’ and then in Chs.2-4 criticize naturalistic referential theories: analytic naturalistic reductionism, synthetic naturalistic reductionism and epistemic kinds realism. In Ch.5 I criticize nonnaturalist referential theories: what I call ‘naïve’ nonnaturalism and J.McDowell’s (1994) more sophisticated quietist version of nonnaturalism. Next, in Ch.6 I introduce the semantic programme of expressivism and go on to construct a simple version of epistemic norm-expressivism (inspired by A.Gibbard (1990)) in order to explain how expressivism can easily outflank the identified problems of referentialist theories. This simple norm-expressivist theory, however, is only used as a theoretical ‘toy’ for the mere sake of motivating the possibility of expressivism, as in Ch.7 I go on to argue for a more sophisticated version of norm-expressivism: habitsendorsement expressivism. In Ch.7 I introduce a prominent expressivist theory of moral and knowledge discourses, namely, plan-reliance expressivism (credited to A.Gibbard (2003, 2008)) and extend it cover the epistemic justification discourse. I then identify some problems for plan-reliance expressivism as extended to cover justification discourse and in response to these problems propose habits-endorsement expressivism. Habits-endorsement expressivism builds on the intuition that (justified) belief-fixation is habitual and exploits the theoretical flexibility of the notion of habits in order to overcome the identified problems of plan-reliance expressivism.