Modal Security

Justin Clarke-Doane, Dan Baras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Modal Security is a proposed necessary condition for undermining defeat. It has been widely discussed of late. The principal is of interest because it seems to entail that influential epistemological arguments, including Evolutionary Debunking Arguments against moral realism and the Benacerraf-Field Challenge for mathematical realism, are unsound. Modal Security says, roughly, that if evidence undermines (rather than rebuts) one’s belief, then one gets reason to doubt the belief’s safety or sensitivity. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine Modal Security in detail. We begin by presenting the principle and its motivations as well as the role it plays in the debunking arguments debate. We then develop and discuss what we take to be the strongest objections to the principle, and see what can be said in response. Six such arguments, as well as a worry that epistemic justification requires a “connection” between the beliefs and the facts, are developed, discussed and criticized. The article reveals how the debate surrounding Modal Security interacts with core problems in epistemology—including the generality problem and the distinction between direct and indirect evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-183
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

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© 2019 Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Inc


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