Without Justification
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Without Justification

By Jonathan Sutton

A Bradford Book





In the contentious debate among contemporary epistemologists and philosophers regarding justification, there is one consensus: justification is distinct from knowledge; there are justified beliefs that do not amount to knowledge, even if all instances of knowledge are instances of justified belief. In Without Justification, Jonathan Sutton forcefully opposes this claim. He proposes instead that justified belief simply is knowledge—not because there is more knowledge than has been supposed, but because there are fewer justified beliefs. There are, he argues, no false justified beliefs.

Sutton suggests that the distinction between justified belief and knowledge is drawn only in contemporary epistemology, and suggests furter that classic philosophers of both ancient and modern times would not have questioned the idea that justification is identical to knowledge.

Sutton argues both that we do not (perhaps even cannot) have a serviceable notion of justification that is distinct from knowledge and that we do not need one. We can get by better in epistemology, he writes, without it. Sutton explores the topics of testimony and evidence, and proposes an account of these two key epistemological topics that relies on the notion of knowledge alone. He also addresses inference (both deductive and inductive), internalism versus externalism in epistemology, functionalism, the paradox of the preface, and the lottery paradox. Sutton argues that all of us—philosopher and nonphilosopher alike—should stick to what we know; we should believe something only if we know it to be so. Further, we should not believe what someone tells us unless we know that he knows what he is talking about. These views are radical, he argues, only in the context of contemporary epistemology's ill-founded distinction between knowledge and justification.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262195553 208 pp. | 9 in x 6 in


$26.00 X | £20.00 ISBN: 9780262693479 208 pp. | 9 in x 6 in


  • Without Justification establishes Jonathan Sutton as an important new figure in epistemology and a leader in its current reorientation. He argues with vigor and originality for a knowledge-centered theory of justification, testimony, and inference that flies in the face of received opinion but grows ever more plausible the more one thinks about it.

    Timothy Williamson

    Oxford University

  • Jonathan Sutton's thesis that justified belief is no more nor less than knowledge is a provocative but well-argued new departure for contemporary epistemology. Without Justification is full of clear and compelling arguments for a view neglected in modern epistemology but which recalls the doctrines of Socrates and Plato. These arguments will demand careful study from anyone with a serious interest in the theory of knowledge. Philosophers who have engaged with Timothy Williamson's Knowledge and Its Limits will find Sutton's book particularly stimulating.

    Alexander Bird

    University of Bristo

  • While Timothy Williamson's slogan is 'Knowledge First', Jonathan Sutton's is 'Knowledge First and Last'. Sutton's slogan is shorthand for a view that bucks a central trend in modern epistemology: Sutton denies that there is a viable notion of justification that is distinct from the notion of knowledge itself. In arguing that we should do without a traditional notion of justification in doing epistemology, Sutton takes us through some fascinating case studies regarding testimony and inference. Without Justification is a lucid, elegant, and important work, one of the best books in recent epistemology.

    Anthony Brueckner

    University of California, Santa Barbara