Entitlement and the Epistemic Status of Cornerstone Beliefs

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  • 1 School of Analytic Philosophy (IPM), Tehran

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In a series of papers, Crispin Wright has proposed a number of arguments to show that what makes one’s perceptual experience confer justification on the beliefs it gives rise to includes having independent, non-evidential warrant (entitlement) to believe the kind of presuppositions (or ‘cornerstones’) that the skeptic highlights. It has been objected that such arguments at most show that entitlement has a pragmatic character. While sympathizing with this objection, I will argue in this paper that the kind of considerations that Wright adduces in support of the entitlement thesis can nevertheless bear on the epistemic status of cornerstone beliefs, though not in the way envisaged by Wright himself. To show this, I shall make use of the thesis of pragmatic encroachment arguing that, in addition to its practical stakes, the epistemic stakes of a belief are also relevant to its epistemic status. The consequences of the claim will then be explored for the question of the epistemic status of cornerstone beliefs which seem to show that, pace Wright, such beliefs can, after all, be evidentially warranted.

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