2.76 Justification

Category: Epistemology

Keywords: believing, beliefs, epistemically, belief, justification, reliable, justified, reliability, epistemic, goldman, forming, believe, believed, accepting, warrant

Number of Articles: 515
Percentage of Total: 1.6%
Rank: 11th

Weighted Number of Articles: 468.9
Percentage of Total: 1.5%
Rank: 14th

Mean Publication Year: 1991.3
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1987.2
Median Publication Year: 1994
Modal Publication Year: 1996

Topic with Most Overlap: Knowledge (0.0603)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Knowledge (0.0734)
Topic with Least Overlap: Beauty (0.00046)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Classical Space and Time (0.00091)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the justificationtopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1996 when 3.8% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1883 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.76 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.175: Justification.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Justificationtopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.9%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 1.2%. Ethics - 0.6%. Philosophical Review - 1.1%. Analysis - 2.0%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.4%. Journal of Philosophy - 1.5%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 2.8%. Philosophy of Science - 0.6%. Noûs - 2.4%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 2.1%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.6%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 2000 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 3.3% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1883 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.176: Justification articles in each journal.

Table 2.187: Characteristic articles of the justification topic.
Table 2.188: Highly cited articles in the justification topic.


The model separates out the theory of knowledge from the theory of justification, but they end up with the very same graph. And it’s not like the division is particularly clean; some of the main papers from the analysis-of-knowledge debate end up here.

This topic has even fewer papers from the early years that are clearly in the topic. The first paper that gets a topic probability above one-third is by Harry Frankfurt! This says something interesting about the background to Gettier’s 1963 paper. Just a few years before that paper, there was virtually no discussion of beliefs being justified. It wasn’t that Gettier showed that a familiar concept couldn’t play a role in the analysis of knowledge. He effectively introduced the concept of justification.

Another way to think about the division the model is making here is that the earlier topic is knowledge-first epistemology, this is belief-first epistemology, and the upcoming topic on formal epistemology is credence-first epistemology. The model thinks ‘justified’ and ‘justification’ are, respectively, \(10^5\) and \(10^8\) times more likely to appear in this topic than inkKnowledge. But it also thinks ‘believe’, ‘believing’, ‘beliefs’ and ‘believed’ are, respectively, \(10^3\), \(10^5\), \(10^{14}\) and \(10^{15}\) times more likely to be here. On the other hand, it thinks ‘know’ and ‘knows’ are \(10^6\) and \(10^{14}\) times less likely to be here than in Knowledge, while ‘skeptic’ and ‘williamson’ are also \(10^{14}\) and \(10^{20}\) times less likely. Obviously a lot of these words are used in a lot of the articles seen above, which is why the model has ambivalent verdicts about the papers. But that’s the distinction it is drawing.

With that in mind, the trends over the last few years of the three main epistemology topics are interesting.

A scatterplot, with trendlines, of the proportion of papers in recent years on justification, knowledge and formal epistemology in the last twenty-five years. Through the 1990s, justification is much higher than the other two, but it stays fairly flat at around 2.5 percent throughout the period. In the early 2000s, Knowledge rises rapidly to almost catch up with justification. Then in the late 2000s formal epistemology rises, and even passes, justification.

Figure 2.177: Trends in epistemology in the last twenty-five years of the study.

Justification was for a while the biggest of the three topics. But while it didn’t fall, it also hasn’t shared in the rapid rise of knowledge or, especially, formal epistemology. The dip in knowledge in the last few years looks to me like a blip, but that will be interesting to check back on in a little while.