By John Perry
This can be a checklist of conversations of Gretchen Weirob, a instructor of philosophy at a small Midwestern
college, and of her acquaintances. The conversations happened in her sanatorium room at the 3 nights
before she died from accidents sustained in a bike twist of fate. Sam Miller is a chaplain and a long-
time pal of Weirob’s; Dave Cohen is a former scholar of hers.
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Extra info for A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality
Does one even have that belief in such a case? It would surely not be normal to have it—as opposed to a disposition to form it—when there is no occasion to suspect such a thing. Suppose, however, that anti-defeater beliefs (as we might call them) are required for coherence and justification. Notice how many beliefs one would need in order to achieve the relevant coherence, for example that my hearing is normal, that there is no other machine nearby that makes the same sounds—it is not quite clear how far this must go.
If my sensory receptors are malfunctioning or if I do not respond to their deliverances by forming beliefs in the normal way, then I may fail to be justified in certain perceptual beliefs. A source provides both a genetic explanation of where a thing comes from and, often, a contemporaneous partial explanation of why it is as it is; enabling conditions, by contrast, provide neither. Taken together, they explain its possibility, but not its genesis or its character. It is neither correct nor theoretically illuminating to construe enabling conditions as part of the source or as a ground.
What a theory of justification should do is provide a good indication of how justification arises, how it is transmitted and communicated, how it may be strengthened or overridden, what sorts of things have it, and how they are con- 19 THEORETICAL REASON nected with other things that have it and with the wider notion of rationality. 17 2. DEFEASIBILITY AND PRIMA FACIE JUSTIFICATION If we now try to characterize justification in a way that enables us to see how one justified belief is connected with others, we encounter a problem: defeasibility.
A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality by John Perry