Q: In what ways does use of the term "Evidence" differ from that of the term "Justification" in philosophy?

Ive read Evidence posed as the internalist counterpoint to the externalist Reliability as the criterion of justification, but Ive also read Evidentialism can be externalist too.

Trying to get the concepts straight. Thanks

  • Justifications are arguments supporting conclusions based on premises, which are often evidences obtained by observing the world. Oct 17, 2020 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


Evidence applies to the propositional attitude of belief or knowledge (claimed). Here, a propositional attitude report is a statement such as, "I believe/think/hope/pray/wish/want/intend/etc. that X be Y," something that takes a that-clause for the operator (so to say). But now as Christianity loves to explain (this is a good point in that tradition, btw, if not particularly common for it!), it is one thing to hope for something, another to know it, so that where knowledge abounds, hope need not. But so can hopes, or wishes, or intentions, be supported? Not quite by evidence as such (though externally, one might ask for evidence that someone's intentions are as stated). So then we cover the idea of support for those propositional attitudes, along the lines of evidence, by the term justification.

Note, then, that supporting desires and intentions, as justification, seems to be a deontic task, in line with the deontic etymology of justification as such. Now, given theories of honesty in evidential claims, we can go back and incorporate evidence itself not as an analogical counterpart of justification, but as the doxastic/epistemic case of the very thing.


A justification is an explanation for your reasons to accept a conclusion or bringing up a premise.

Evidence is one type of justification, being that "this conclusion matches observable reality" (for a reasonable definition of "observable").

"It is easier this way" would be another (type of) justification, but a lot less convincing than providing evidence

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