Here’s a proposal about the value of justification, and the related issue of the value of knowledge. Suppose we think of justification along Kantian lines, as follows. What is valuable about justification is that it constitutes an expression of our autonomy as cognitive beings (in search of the truth). Autonomy here has nothing to do with libertarian freedom, but instead involves following rules that are self-given rather than imposed by some external authority.
In the epistemic context, the rules in question have to be the evidential theory that determines whether or not one’s beliefs are justified. Some versions of evidentialism will give some objective account of the evidential theory, and thereby eliminate the possibility of an appeal to autonomy to explain the value of holding beliefs in accord with the theory. The best example I know of where a theory preserves autonomy is a version of Bayesianism, where coherence at a time is necessary for justification, and updating by conditionalization completes the picture. What is interesting about conditionalization here is that, to posit it as a requirement on justification presupposes that every person has a theory of evidence implicit in their conditional doxastic attitudes, a theory of evidence that tells them how to update their attitudes in the face of any possible learning experience whatsoever. In the context of my question about the value of justification, this Bayesianism is perfectly suited to an explanation of the value of justification in terms of following self-given epistemic rules as opposed to rules imposed “from the outside.”
The problem, of course, is that this version of Bayesianism is false. It nonetheless provides a model for how to develop the theory of justification so as to embody this Kantian intuition. The trick is to make the theory of evidence somehow elicitable from the attitudes (or dispositions?) of the epistemic agent. I think this is what Lehrer’s theory of knowledge is trying to do, even if it doesn’t quite honor the Kantian requirement in the end. So the proposal is that there is a kind of justification that is valuable in virtue of licensing beliefs that conform to one’s own internal epistemic standards.
Characterized in this way, what we get is Foley’s theory of justification, though there is a complication. For Foley, one’s deepest epistemic standards are defined counterfactually in terms of what conclusion one would come to given a unlimited amount of time to reflect on the matter. I think the theory would be better if the counterfactual were thought of as being good evidence for what one’s deepest standards are (since counterfactual theories can only be philosophically respectable by including an account of how the particular counterfactual theory in question escapes the conditional fallacy explained by Shope in his 1979 piece). Technical emendations aside, however, it looks from here that Foley’s theory can sustain a Kantian explanation of the value of justified belief by appeal to the autonomy of the epistemic standards in question.