Green is in the good case so he knows all sorts of stuff about how things are and ought to be. Green knows that he ought to keep his promises when there’s no overriding reason not to, knows that he cannot keep his promises without visiting his friend Plum, knows that he cannot get to see Plum unless he gets his tickets for the train, and so knows that he ought to get his tickets for the train. Mustard is in the bad case. While Mustard is Green’s epistemic counterpart (i.e., the two are in precisely the same non-factive mental states and have been since the cradle), Mustard is deceived at nearly every turn by a deceiving demon. It seems to Mustard that he has friends and that he’s made promises to them that can be kept only if tickets are purchased, but Mustard’s only companion is the demon. His beliefs don’t constitute knowledge as they tend to be false. Unless you like abusing a perfectly good word, you should probably say that the processes that produce his beliefs aren’t reliable. Things seem precisely the same to them and they reason in just the same way.
Suppose your theory of justification says that there’s some external condition (e.g., truth, reliability, knowledge, proper-functioning) necessary for justification. It seems that your theory has the unfortunate implication that in some pair of cases like the Green/Mustard pair, the external condition your theory says is necessary for justified belief is a condition that obtains only in the good case. A typical reaction to this is to say that when we compare the good and bad cases, the beliefs in the good case are just as justified as the beliefs in the bad case. Someone might go on to say that what does the justificatory work here is some common factor. Perhaps the phenomenal conservative’s view is the ticket:
(PC) If it robustly seems to S that p, then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby is justified in believing p.
While (PC) seems to capture some intuitions, it’s worth noting that there’s another view that seems consistent with the comparative judgment that epistemic counterparts always have beliefs with the same justificatory status, the view that internal duplicates of knowers have justified beliefs.
(KD) If S is the same on the inside as someone who knows p, S is justified in believing p.
For a large number of cases, there won’t be much difference between (PC) and (KD). If someone forms beliefs on the basis of hallucinatory experiences, perhaps if the contents of the beliefs ‘fit’ the contents of the experience the subject is the same on the inside as some possible subject. In judging that things are as experience represents them as being, both (PC) and (KD) will classify the perceptual beliefs as justified. When it comes to moral matters, however, it seems that (KD) may not deliver verdicts in cases where (PC) delivers verdicts and I worry (well, not really. It’s not my theory!) that the verdicts aren’t all that intuitive.
I. The Rationality Rationale
I’ve seen this sort of rationale offered for (PC) and offered for something in the neighborhood of (KD). Suppose our counterparts Mustard and Green both believe that they ought to keep their respective promises to Plum. Suppose they both believe that keeping this duty takes precedence over some competing duty we’d all think wouldn’t give an overriding reason. (Green’s belief constitutes knowledge but Mustard’s beliefs about the external world are based on hallucinations caused by our demon.) Suppose both Mustard and Green believe that to keep that promise they have to buy tickets and suppose that they both believe that they have no (undefeated) reason not to buy them or keep the promise. Suppose that your theory of justified belief and justified action says that there’s something that Green’s actions and attitudes have that is necessary for justification that Mustard’s lack. And, suppose that Mustard doesn’t perform the action he takes to be necessary for doing what he ought to do. Suppose he doesn’t form the belief that he should perform the action. Instead, Mustard forms the intention to do the thing he takes to be the overridden duty to do. If pressed, he might say there’s better reason to do the other thing and yet he keeps pressing on going for what he judges isn’t best. According to the externalist theory, it may well be that he’s not failing to do what he should. But, as it seems that he’s deeply irrational that’s bad for the externalist theory. Just as what’s rational is fixed by your perspective, what there’s most reason to do or believe is fixed by the very same facts that determine what your perspective is like. Externalists who say otherwise are committed to the unfortunate view that there can be most reason to do what would be deeply irrational to do and maintain attitudes that are similarly deeply irrational (e.g., refrain from believing that you should take the necessary means to the end you rationally judge is the end you ought to pursue). Call this the ‘rationality rationale’.
II. Rationality, Justification, and Normative Judgment
Here’s where things get tricky. Suppose White is a cannibal and Peacock a terrorist. Maybe White understands that there are all sorts of agent relative reasons not to eat people, but White simply lacks the seeming states that would rationalize the judgement that there’s good reason not to eat a stranger. He’s clearly missing something he shouldn’t be missing. Peacock’s problem is not that she has too few attitudes, she has too many. Her moral intuitions tell her that violent acts that take the lives of innocent persons are perfectly justifiable because of the kind of relationship there is between the creator and her victims. I see no reason to think that there couldn’t be coherent sets of attitudes (including here intuitions and beliefs) that subjects could have where it robustly seems to them that their acts of terrorism and cannibalism are morally right. This is where I’m curious about intuitions because I find it intuitive to say two things.
First, I feel no pull towards the view that the moral attitudes of (coherent) cannibals and terrorists are justified. Here’s the nice thing about (KD). Our cannibals and terorrists aren’t the same on the inside as someone who knows that they should eat someone from the neighboring village or commit acts of terrorism, so (KD) doesn’t classify their beliefs as justified. This is where I think (KD) enjoys a distinct advantage over (PC).
Second, I feel some pull towards saying that these cannibals and terorists are perfectly rational in their normative judgments. Suppose our cannibal judges that he’s within his rights to eat someone who isn’t a neighbor and thinking it best to do that forms the belief that he should do what is necessary to secure a meal. If instead of setting his nets, he does the sort of things that would prevent him from eating another person (banging pots and pans together, handcuffing himself to a rail, encasing his feet in cement) it seems he’s deeply irrational. If (KD) doesn’t classify our terrorist’s and cannibal’s beliefs that tell them they ought to pursue the necessary means to their ends, then it doesn’t seem to be a view that can be supported by the rationality rationale.
If I’m right that it is counterintuitive to classify the normative judgments of terrorists and cannibals as justified and right that (KD) is consistent with this, it seems (KD) isn’t motivated by the rationality rationale. It also seems that if I’m right and (PC) might accomodate some intuitions, but it’s not clear it accomodates the sort of internalist intuitions we want to accomodate. (KD) accomodates the sort of supervenience intuitions just fine. Here’s a possible lesson to take from this. I think it’s a mistake to say that when it seems that p and there’s no reason to think ~p or think that the seeming isn’t to be trusted, you thereby count as having an adequate justification for believing p. Perhaps there’s the further question as to whether it’s possible that by taking appearances at face value you’ll end up conforming to certain sorts of norms. There are norms that enjoin us not to act as cannibals and terrorists and that’s why we aren’t impressed by a defense of their conduct that it seemed to them that it was right. (Of course it did, that’s probably why they did it!)
As much as I’d like to think that that’s right, this probably needs some modification. Non-normative beliefs in propositions that are necessarily false seem to be beliefs that we could nevertheless justifiably accept in spite of the fact that it’s not possible to take appearances at face value and get these beliefs right. As I’m not much inclined to accept either (PC) or (KD), I’m really interested in knowing what people’s intuitions are about the rationality and justifiedness of the moral beliefs of our (coherent) cannibals and terrorists. Is there a sense in which they are rational? Am I right that these beliefs are without justification?