Graduate studies at Western
Philosophical Studies 129 (1):27 - 47 (2006)
|Abstract||According to reliabilists about epistemic justification, what makes a belief epistemically justified is that it was produced by a reliable process of belief-formation. Earl Conee and Richard Feldman have forcefully presented a problem for such reliabilism, "the generality problem."? The generality problem arises once we realize that the notion of reliability applies straightforwardly only to types of process--for only types of process are repeatable entities which can produce true or false beliefs in each of their instances. Moreover, any token process will be an instance of indefinitely many types of process. Which of these types must be reliable for my belief to be justified, according to reliabilism? That question, generalized to cover every case of belief-formation, is the generality problem for reliabilism. In this paper I propose a solution to the generality problem. The solution makes use of the basing relation, and so, given that it isn't clear how to characterize that relation, it might be thought to replace one problem with another. I argue that, however difficult it is to characterize the basing relation, every adequate epistemological theory must make use of it implicitly or explicitly. Therefore, it is perfectly legitimate to appeal to the basing relation in solving a problem for an epistemological theory.|
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