Philosophy 127 - 7.3 Justification

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain what justification means in the context of epistemology.
  • Explain the difference between internal and external theories of justification.
  • Describe the similarities and differences between coherentism and foundationalism.
  • Classify beliefs according to their source of justification.

Much of epistemology in the latter half of the 20th century was devoted to the question of justification. Questions about what knowledge is often boil down to questions about justification. When we wonder whether knowledge of the external world is possible, what we really question is whether we can ever be justified in accepting as true our beliefs about the external world. And as previously discussed, determining whether a defeater for knowledge exists requires knowing what could undermine justification.

We will start with two general points about justification. First, justification makes beliefs more likely to be true. When we think we are justified in believing something, we think we have reason to believe it is true. How justification does this and how to think about the reasons will be discussed below. Second, justification does not always guarantee truth. Justification makes beliefs more likely to be true, which implies that justified beliefs could still be false. The fallibility of justification will be addressed at the end of this section.

This lesson has no exercises.

The content of this course has been taken from the free Philosophy textbook by Openstax