A critical appraisal of Alvin Plantinga on justification and warrant

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Capustin, Mark
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In this thesis, I argue that even if Alvin Plantinga's externalist theory of warrant is essentially correct, internalism with respect to epistemic justification should not be abandoned. I argue that Internalist justification, understood in purely evidentialist terms, is both necessary for warrant, and desirable for the pragmatic benefits that it affords. Plantinga defines warrant as the quality or quantity, enough of which is both necessary and sufficient for turning true belief into knowledge. His theory states that a belief is warranted if it is produced by a reliable, truth-directed cognitive faculty functioning properly in an appropriate epistemic environment. In principle, it is not possible for a cognizer to know whether or not a given belief has warrant, since many of the relevant facts regarding the functioning of one's faculties and the congeniality of the epistemic environment are not the kinds of facts to which the cognizer has direct epistemic access. Internalist theories of epistemic justification hold that the factors that confer epistemic justification are internal to the mind, and at least potentially accessible to the cognizer upon reflection or introspection. I argue that a belief is justified if and only if it fits one's evidence. I also argue that it is plausible to conclude that beliefs that fail to be justified also lack warrant. If this is correct, then internalist justification, understood in evidentialist terms, affords the pragmatic benefit of providing an accessible criterion for assessing the epistemic status of a significant class of beliefs with respect to their warrant.