Justification as Faultlessness
Philosophical Studies 174 (4): 901-926, 2017
Abstract. According to deontological approaches to justification, we can analyze justification in deontic terms. In this paper, I try to advance the discussion of deontological approaches by applying recent insights in the semantics of deontic modals. Specifically, I use the distinction between weak necessity modals (should, ought to) and strong necessity modals (must, have to) to make progress on a question that has received surprisingly little discussion in the literature, namely: ‘What’s the best version of a deontological approach?’ The two most obvious hypotheses are the Permissive View, according to which justified expresses permission, and the Obligatory View, according to which justified expresses some species of obligation. I raise difficulties for both of these hypotheses. In light of these difficulties, I propose a new position, according to which justified expresses a property I call faultlessness, defined as the dual of weak necessity modals. According to this view, an agent is justified in 𝜙-ing iff it’s not the case that she should [/ought] not 𝜙. I argue that this ‘Faultlessness View’ gives us precisely what’s needed to avoid the problems facing the Permissive and Obligatory Views.
You can find the published version here, and the penultimate version here.