Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa, Dept. of Philosophy, University of British Columbia
— I argue that the widespread use of “justification” language in contemporary epistemology carries substantial normative presuppositions. “Justification” language in general presupposes that the action in question is pro tanto wrong. In the case of epistemology, discussion of whether beliefs are “justified” insinuates that belief in general is to be suspected or regretted, even if one’s answer is that a given belief is justified. This feeds into a negative bias in epistemology, tilting the scales in favour of skepticism prior to inquiry. Moreover, since there are substantive connections between epistemology and action — responsible action requires responsible belief — this bias towards the skeptical also results in a bias against efforts at reform. For this reason, the role of “justification” language in epistemology constitutes a harmful ideology, further entrenching oppressive elements of the status quo.