Philosophy Ph.D. Dissertations


Normativity and Rationality – Analyzing the Norms for Disagreements and Judgment Suspension

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Philosophy, Applied

First Advisor

Christian Coons (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Michael Weber (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Sara Worley (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Christopher Kluse (Other)


It is commonly accepted that suspension of judgment, together with belief and disbelief, are the three doxastic attitudes a person may hold toward a proposition. While there have been decades-long discussions on norms for belief and disbelief, philosophers have only started to work out the norms for judgment suspension in recent years. In this dissertation, I aim to contribute to this discussion by looking into the standard of correctness for judgment suspension, some of the possible norms for judgment suspension, as well as the possible obligations when one suspends judgment. I argue that rationality norms play an important role in determining the norms for judgment suspension and the norms for responding to disagreements. Chapter 1 focuses on the meta-normative aspects of judgment suspension and discusses how the Reasoning View of normative reasons together with the Knowledge Standard correctness for beliefs can accommodate normative reasons for judgment suspension. Chapter 2 focuses on one epistemic norm of judgment suspension called conciliationism. According to conciliationism, one ought to suspend judgment on whether p when one faces disagreements from an epistemic peer about p. I argue that conciliationism depends on a problematic principle called Independence, and offer an alternative principle that does not rely on Independence yet still captures our conciliatory intuitions. Chapter 3 focuses on the cases where one suspends judgment on the permissibility of some action. I argue that when one ought to suspend judgment on whether an action φ is permissible, then φ-ing and ~φ-ing are both permissible. Chapter 4 goes beyond the discussion of judgment suspension and discusses cases where one faces disagreement from a moral expert on a moral issue. I argue that contrary to what pessimists about moral deference claim, one is rationally required to defer to the moral expert in those cases. Though some moral considerations may count against moral deference, they fail to render moral deference impermissible.