Bootstrap and rollback: generalizing epistemic circularity

Synthese 189 (2):395-413 (2012)
Reliabilists accept the possibility of basic knowledge—knowledge that p in virtue of the reliability of some belief-producing process r without antecedent knowledge that r is reliable. Cohen (Philos Phenomenol Res 65:309–329, 2002 , Philos Phenomenol Res 70:417–430, 2005 ) and Vogel (J Philos 97:602–623, 2000 , J Philos 105:518–539, 2008 ) have argued that one can bootstrap knowledge that r is reliable from basic knowledge. This paper provides a diagnosis of epistemic bootstrapping, and then shows that recent attempts at embracing bootstrapped knowledge are found wanting. Instead it is argued that such arguments are afflicted by a novel kind of generalized epistemic circularity. The ensuing view is defended against various objections, and an explanation of the source of that circularity is offered
Keywords Reliabilism  Epistemic bootstrapping  Epistemic circularity
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-011-9990-9
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Crispin Wright (2004). Warrant for Nothing (and Foundations for Free)? Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78 (1):167–212.

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