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THE SOCIAL VALUE OF REASONING IN EPISTEMIC JUSTIFICATION

  • Jennifer Nagel

Extract

Social epistemology has to be admired for its courage in tackling those areas of human judgment that seem most epistemically problematic. When and how are we justified in accepting the testimony of a stranger? That looks like a hard question. Social epistemology has less obvious application to what might be considered the easy cases of epistemic justification: for example, the justification of judgments founded on explicit reasoning (‘there is no largest prime number’), or inner sense (‘I am presently feeling cold and a bit nervous’). My aim in what follows is to explore the social dimension of these ‘easy’ cases, and in fact also to discuss some hidden reasons why the epistemic justification of these judgments seems less problematic than the justification of judgments based on, for example, testimony and perception.

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