The place of reasons in epistemology

Kurt Sylvan, Ernest Sosa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


This chapter defends a middle ground between two extremes in the literature on the place of reasons in epistemology. Against members of the "reasons first" movement, we argue that reasons are not the sole grounds of epistemic normativity. We suggest that the virtue-theoretic property of competence is rather the key building block. To support this approach, we note that reasons must be possessed to ground central epistemic properties, and argue that possession is grounded in competence. But while we here diverge with reasons-firsters, we also distance ourselves from those who deem reasons unimportant. Indeed, we hold that having sufficient epistemic reasons is necessary and sufficient for propositional justification, and that proper basing on them yields doxastic justification. But since possession and proper basing are grounded in competence, reasons are not the end of the road: competence enables them to do their work, putting them-and us-in the middle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780199657889
StatePublished - Jul 10 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Epistemic justification
  • Epistemic normativity
  • Epistemic rationality
  • Epistemic reasons
  • Virtue epistemology


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