[lit-ideas] Bartley's Non-Justificationism (Was: Justifying Moral Principles?)

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
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  • Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:41:03 -0500

Is W. W. Bartley, III, a non-justificationist?
His adage is:

(E) Everything is criticisable -- encluding (E).
Of course one has to distinguish between justificationism and  
fundamentalism -- epistemological fundamentalism.
The keywords here then seem to be: NON-JUSTIFICATIONISM vs.  
(epistemological) FUNDAMENTALISM. 

By a justification is understood as condition that needs to  satisfy a true 
conviction to count as knowledge (including moral  knowledge).
It draws on the classical definition of knowledge as justified and true  
However, an analysis of this concept of knowledge (including moral  
knowledge) leads to problems, the best known are the counterexamples known as  
Gettier problems. 
Roughly speaking, a justification designates the "good reasons" why a  
subject of knowledge (including moral knowledge) has an opinion and with  
certainty believes in it or acts towards it.  
There are so numerous approaches to complete the definition of  
justification, that some consider the problems of knowledge (including moral  
knowledge) a pseudo-problem. 
Externalist and internalist approaches are usually distinguished. 
It is argued that by naming the problems of Epistemological  
Fundamentalism, the debate about  justification has taken a direction that  
rejects the 
claims of a hard externalism on a realistic awareness theoretical  ultimate 

I took W. O.'s wording as an attack on  JUSTIFICATIONISM. Keyword: 
JUSTIFICATIONISM. I think Bartley was an  anti-justificationist, so one can 
take W. 
O's wording as an attack on  Bartley?

According to Justificationism, as we may call the traditional  
philosophical view that knowledge (including moral knowledge) entails  
justification, we 
know (even morally know) p only if we are justified in  believing p. 

A great number of theorists have abandoned  justificationism, and count, as 
known, those basic (non-inferential) beliefs  that are arrived at (or 
sustained) via reliable methods. 

Other theorists  accept an unorthodox form of justificationism, according 
to which even  non-inferential beliefs (including moral beliefs and 
attitudes) can count as  justified so long as they are arrived at (sustained) 
reliable  methods.

Suppose, however, that justificationism were true. 

How  would it bear on knowledge (even moral knowledge) closure? 

The position  that K holds only if J does may be called the linkage thesis. 

Does  justificationism commit us to the linkage thesis, so that closure 
failure in the  case of justification carries over to closure in the case of  

Even if justificationism were true, there would be ways to  reject the 
linkage thesis.

When S believes (even morally believes)  p upon seeing it is entailed by 
something S knows, let us say that p is  knowledge (even moral knowledge) 

When S believes p upon seeing  it is entailed by something S justifiably 
believes, let us say that p is  justification (even moral justification) 

According to K, we  know p if p is knowledge (even moral justification) 
secured. By  justificationism, we are justified in believing p if we know p. 

And so on. Of course, W. O. speaks of meta-ethics.  For those philosophers 
who endorse moral anti-realism (Blackburn?) all  these issues are (more or 
less) otiose* 



* which is not necessarily a bad thing (don't know for Popper). "Otiose"  
was Rogers Albritton's favourite word and he abused it to the point that all 
his  students ended up calling HIM otiose (in principle). 

W. O.: "We justify  our judgements and actions through the giving and 
assessing of reasons.  In  doing so, we appeal to one or more moral principles 
for purposes of securing  satisfactory levels of impartiality and objectivity. 
But can the principles  themselves be justified? Could Rorty"s 
"ethnocentrism" really be the last word  on the subject?  On that meta-ethical 
view, any 
attempt to justify a moral  scheme or "vocabulary" would prove to be 
question-begging since the  justification would have to appeal to principles, 
norms and criteria internal to  its own vocabulary. So how then do we justify 
the Categorical Imperative,  Principle of Equal Respect for Persons, The 
Original Position, Principle of  Discourse, etc.. Are these really but articles 
of political faith?"
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