Department of Theoretical Philosophy
Interpersonal Justification from a Second-Personal Perspective
In the latest decades, the social aspects involved in knowledge production and transmission have been increasingly deemed relevant, giving rise to so-called social epistemology. However, social epistemology has so far mainly focused on testimony, and little attention has been paid to epistemic justification in social and interpersonal contexts. Interpersonal justification can be understood as the practice of justifying beliefs to others.
In this paper, I am going to discuss and reject the account of interpersonal justification (IPJ) developed by one of the most prominent figure in social epistemology, Alvin Goldman. I argue that Goldman’s attempt to develop an account of IPJ taking personal justification as primitive fails in assessing the normative import of interpersonal justification. In order to establish how we can possibly generate an obligation to believe a certain interpersonally justified proposition, I argue that an account of interpersonal justification should be constitutively social, and provide a framework in which interlocutors can come to share criteria of justifiedness.
To develop such account, I resort to Darwall’s theory of second-personal standpoint. According to Darwall, “the second-person standpoint [is] the perspective you and I take up when we make and acknowledge claims on one another’s conduct and will” (Darwall, 2006, p. 3). Darwall here refers to moral claims put forward within a relation in which subjects have the relevant authority to address directly one another. Although Darwall denies that reasons for belief can be addressed person-to-person, I argue that we can possibly extend this approach to argumentative exchanges by conceiving second-personal relations in terms of Rawlsian mutual respect. Arguably, this allows accounting for the rise of a shared ground between interlocutors that establishes shared criteria for justification.
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