and the Core of Objectivist Logic
A Distinction Regarding Justification
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is an excerpt from a work in progress. It is, in fact, an excerpt from chapter thirteen of a book defending a dual foundationalist approach to the Objectivist Theory of Knowledge. In this section, I argue for a distinction between being justified and knowing that one is justified, which parallels a later distinction which I make between acting in accordance with epistemic norms and acting by reference to epistemic norms. Towards the end of this exerpt, I am arguing in defense of a metaphysical (in contrast to an empirical) foundation. However, it should be clear from this excerpt that a similar argument could be made in defense of an empirical foundation.
Since the time of Plato, knowledge has been analyzed almost exclusively in terms of justified, true belief. Now as I've mentioned in the previous part, this analysis results in an apparent problem as a result of someone being unable to claim that he knows a proposition p unless he knows that he is justified in claiming that he knows p as well. This would seem to require an infinite regress since knowing that he is justified in claiming that he knows p constitutes another distinct unit of knowledge p', a unit which evidently requires its own justification. However, I will argue that there need not be any infinite regress.
We must at this point make a distinction between being justified and knowing that one is justified. However, this distinction by itself will not serve to solve our problem. We can see why by introducing the distinction between the first-person perspective and the third-person perspective. Let us assume that person a knows p. Since he knows p, he must be justified in believing p. But now for the sake of our argument, let us say that he does not know that he is justified in believing p. To express this in our earlier terminology, person a does not know p'. Now let us assume that there is a person b, and person b knows both p and p'. Person b is surely justified in claiming to know p since he both knows p and knows that he is justified in believing p. Furthermore, he can rightly claim to know that person a knows p if he knows that person a believes p and is justified in believing p. However, person a is not justified in claiming to know p since he himself does not know p'. Thus person a is still left with the problem of justifying his claim to knowledge, and person b encounters the same problem, but only at a higher level: he must now justify his knowledge of p'. Thus it would seem that the distinction between being justified and knowing that one is justified is unfruitful and fails to solve the infinite regress problem of justification.
In order to solve this problem, we must think in more concrete terms. What we are trying to discover here is how the cognitive process gets started. Thus I believe that the critique of the distinction automatically brings forth the wrong context in which to think of the problem: what one imagines is someone like Descartes in full possession of his cognitive faculties attempting to rebuild his knowledge from the ground-up. In stark contrast, the context which we should be considering is that of a baby discovering the world for the first time. The baby looks across the room and sees a ball on the table. The ball is on the table, he believes the ball is on the table, and he is justified in believing that the ball is on the table. But does he know that he is justified in believing that the ball is on the table? No. He has no knowledge of the problem of justification.
However, this last analysis does not solve the infinite regress problem of justification: it merely indicates the direction which should be taken. Essentially, what we must realize is that the problem of justification can only take place in a context. The fact that one needs justification for one's beliefs is empirical in nature like all other knowledge, and as such, it must be discovered. This is why one should construct a metaphysics based upon the analysis of the subject/object-relationship: it is only in the context of the subject/object-relationship that the problem of justification can occur. More importantly, the analysis of the subject/object-relationship to be presented will be in terms of the order in which the elements of it are discovered.
|The Basic Idea Behind Dual Foundationalism|
|The Basis for Epistemic Normativity/ Notes|
|A Distinction Regarding Justification|
|The Nature of Epistemic Norms|
|The Core of Objectivist Logic|
©1996 by Timothy D. Chase. All rights reserved.
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