The Nature of Justification

  • Robert G. Meyers
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 38)


Knowledge is obviously something more than true belief. If a person believes something on the basis of evidence, but happens to be right by accident, he has a true belief, but not knowledge. What is this “something more” that is needed to turn true belief into knowledge? We may say that it is that the belief must be justified. Broadly speaking, two theories have been offered to explain this notion. According to one, it is a question of how the person arrived at the belief. If the processes leading to belief are reliable, his true belief amounts to knowledge; otherwise, he has true belief that falls short. The emphasis here is on the historical antecedents of the belief and the reliability of the processes leading to it (see, e.g., Goldman, 1979). A second theory takes the processes to be irrelevant and holds that justifiedness is solely a function of the strength and relevance of the evidence for the proposition. If the person’s “total evidence” is adequate, the true belief is justified and hence knowledge. Here the emphasis is on the logical relations that exist among the person’s beliefs.


True Belief Reasonable Doubt Total Evidence Adequate Evidence Pythagorean Theorem 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert G. Meyers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySUNY at AlbanyUSA

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