Theory of Justification - Criticisms


The major opposition against the theory of justification (also called ‘justificationism’ in this context) is nonjustificational criticism (a synthesis of skepticism and absolutism) which is most notably held by some of the proponents of critical rationalism: W. W. Bartley, David Miller and Karl Popper. (But not all proponents of critical rationalism oppose justificationism; it is supported most prominently by John W. N. Watkins.)

In justificationism, criticism consists of trying to show that a claim cannot be reduced to the authority or criteria that it appeals to. That is, it regards the justification of a claim is primary, while the claim itself is secondary. By contrast, nonjustificational criticism works towards attacking claims themselves.

Bartley also refers to a third position, which he calls critical rationalism in a more specific sense, claimed to have been Popper's view in his Open Society. It has given up justification, but not yet adopted nonjustificational criticism. Instead of appealing to criteria and authorities, it attempts to describe and explicate them.

Fogelin claims to detect a suspicious resemblance between the Theories of Justification and Agrippa's five modes leading to the suspension of belief. He concludes that the modern proponents have made no significant progress in responding to the ancient modes of pyrrhonic skepticism.

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