AuthorLyons, Jack Coady
AdvisorGoldman, Alvin I.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractTraditional epistemology has devoted much attention to the distinctions between perception and inference and between basic and non-basic beliefs. Hot, I develop a different and more general distinction, between what I call "privileged" and "nonprivileged" beliefs; privileged beliefs are justifiable by means of an otherwise substandard argument while nonprivileged beliefs require support by a generally adequate argument for their justification I argue that even coherentists are tacitly committed to this distinction (although they may deny the existence of basic beliefs) and that one of the chief problems for simple reliabilist theories is that they imply that all beliefs are privileged. Any adequate epistemology has to count some beliefs as privileged and some as nonprivileged, and I suggest a way to modify reliabilist theories to accommodate this result. The privileged/nonprivileged belief distinction suggests a framework theory about the structure of epistemic justification, a theory which improves on foundationalism, coherentism, and reliabilism in certain respects. Yet it raises the question of which beliefs are privileged and which are nonprivileged. I argue that whether or not a belief is privileged is determined by the etiology of that belief, and in particular, by the intrinsic nature and the etiology of the psychological faculty that produced that belief. A belief, therefore, is privileged if and only if it is the output of a certain kind of cognitive faculty, or system. Consequently, the beliefs produced by these faculties are such that it is possible to be justified in holding them even in the absence of a generally adequate argument. This does not mean that all the outputs of all such faculties are justified, for such beliefs might still require (and lack) inferential support or be subject to non-inferential requirements, like reliability And of course, all such beliefs are potentially subject to defeat from other justified beliefs. The kind of cognitive faculties I have in mind includes, but is not restricted to, "modules", in Jerry Fodor's sense. The etiological, faculty-oriented view defended hat argues for distinctive, versions of externalism and naturalism in epistemology and holds some promise of illuminating certain traditional epistemological problems.
Degree ProgramGraduate College