W.K. Clifford summarized this deontic model of rationality when he stated, “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind… the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.” Clifford gives the scenario of a seafaring ship and the ship owner’s knowledge of the integrity of the ship. In Clifford’s alternated ending the ship owner is responsible or equally guilty for the shipwreck even though it never happened. The reason why he’s responsible is because he knew that that’s what could have happened.
The deontic aspect of belief and knowledge is not so much how one forms a belief but rather what that belief is. This ethic on pertains to what the belief is and how it measures to the evidence. The justificatory means is peripheral as long as the belief corresponds to reality. Initially, this seems an untenable position assuming that it may be possible to know the objective truth about all of reality. In order for one to be justified and to have knowledge without being at fault ethically the belief must be congruent to the evidence. This allows for reasonable accountability and correction of one’s beliefs and it permits the advancement of knowledge, to learn, and paradigm shifts.