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Epistemic basing relation

DOI: 10.4324/0123456789-P070-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved January 18, 2018, from

Article Summary

The epistemic basing relation is the relation that holds between beliefs and the reasons for which they are held. It is important to understand this relation if we want to have a full account of epistemic justification, because it sometimes happens that people possess good reasons for their beliefs, but fail to hold their beliefs on the basis of their good reasons. In cases like that, it seems, beliefs are not fully justified. In addition to possessing good reasons for our beliefs, we must also hold our beliefs on the basis of our good reasons.

It is tempting to think that the basing relation is some sort of causal relation, something along the following lines: a subject S’s belief that P is based on a reason R if and only if R is at least part of what causes or causally sustains S’s belief. However, this analysis is subject to important and well-known objections, such as the causal deviance problem: sometimes reasons cause beliefs in ways that are too strange or indirect (that is, they deviate from the normal ways that reasons cause beliefs), and in cases like that, a reason will cause a belief but the belief will not be based on the reason.

A main alternative to the causal account is the doxastic account, according to which whether S’s belief that P is based on a reason R depends on whether it seems to S that R is a good reason for believing P. Another alternative is the dispositional account, which roughly holds that S’s belief that P is based on a reason R just in case S is disposed to revise or give up the belief that P if S loses R. A fourth kind of account appeals to what subjects would say in defense of their beliefs if they were asked to give their reasons for holding them.

Citing this article:
Bondy, Patrick. Epistemic basing relation, 2017, doi:10.4324/0123456789-P070-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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