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Higher seminar in theoretical philosophy: Mikael Janvid


Date: Thursday 27 January 2022

Time: 13.15 – 15.00

Location: D700

Against Normative Defeat

This paper argues against the existence of so-called normative defeaters, defeaters consisting of doubts or beliefs that a subject ought to have indicating that her belief that p is either false or unjustified. Despite typically not being in the possession of the subject, such defeaters still destroy her justification for that belief. In determining whether defeat occurs, the justificatory strength of the belief targeted by the defeater is often left out of consideration, as well as the epistemic strength of the defeater, which is a mistake, or so I shall argue. Once these parameters are specified, alleged cases of normative defeat either turn out not to provide genuine cases of defeat – the subject remains justified or was not justified to begin with – or can be subsumed under a uniform category of defeat. Incidentally, the same result is also reached for the contrast class to normative defeat: doxastic defeat. A more fruitful framework, where the epistemic strength is included in a uniform way for both justification and defeat, is suggested in terms of reliable indicators where their strength determines whether defeat occurs.