When Evidence Isn't Enough: Suspension, Evidentialism, and Knowledge-first Virtue Epistemology

Jennifer Lackey, Lisa Miracchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


I motivate and develop a novel account of the epistemic assessability of suspension as a development of my knowledge-first, virtue-epistemological research program. First, I extend an argument of Ernest Sosa's for the claim that evidentialism cannot adequately account for the epistemic assessability of suspension. This includes a kind of knowledge-first evidentialism of the sort advocated by Timothy Williamson. I agree with Sosa that the reasons why evidentialism fails motivate a virtue-epistemological approach, but argue that my knowledge-first account is preferable to his view. According to my account, rational belief is belief that manifests proper practical respect for what it takes to know. Beliefs are the only primary bearers of epistemic evaluation since they are the only candidates for knowledge. However, suspension can manifest a derivative kind of practical respect for what it takes to know. Thus, we can explain why the same sort of assessment is applicable to both belief and suspension (epistemic rationality), and why belief has a privileged claim to these properties. Lastly, I'll look at Sosa's and Williamson's treatments of Pyrrhonian skepticism, which treats a certain kind of suspension as the epistemically superior practice, and argue that my account provides a better anti-skeptical response than either of their approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-437
Number of pages25
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • evidentialism
  • knowledge-first epistemology
  • skepticism
  • suspension
  • virtue epistemology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science


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