Infinitism in Epistemology This article provides an overview of infinitism in epistemology. Infinitism is a family of views in epistemology about the structure of knowledge and epistemic justification. It contrasts naturally with coherentism and foundationalism. All three views agree that knowledge or justification requires an appropriately structured chain of reasons. What form may such a […].
The purpose of this paper is to explain how infinitism—the view that reasons are endless and non-repeating—solves the epistemic regress problem and to defend that solution against some objections. The first step is to explain what the epistemic regress problem is and, equally important, what it is not. Second, I will discuss the foundationalist and coherentist responses to the regress problem and offer some reasons for thinking that neither response can solve the problem, no matter how they are tweaked. Then, (...) I want to present the infinitist solution to the problem and defend it against some of the well known objections to it. (shrink)
O propósito deste artigo é mostrar como podem ser desenvolvidas explicações robustas de justificação e de certeza no interior do infinitismo. Primeiro, eu explico como a concepção infinitista de justificação epistêmica difere das concepções fundacionista e coerentista. Em segundo lugar, explico como o infinitista pode oferecer uma solução ao problema do regresso epistêmico. Em terceiro lugar, explico como o infinitismo, per se, é compatível com as teorias daqueles que sustentam 1) que o conhecimento requer certeza e que uma tal forma (...) superior de conhecimento é possível, bem como com as daqueles que rejeitam algum ou ambos os conjuntos em 1). Em outras palavras, o infinitismo nem endossa, nem rejeita o ceticismo, tomando-se essa tese como sendo aquela segundo a qual nós não possuímos conhecimento naquelas situações que nos parecem cognoscíveis. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Certeza. Coerentismo. Fundacionismo. Infinitismo. Pirronismo. Regresso epistêmico. ABSTRACT The purpose of the paper is to show how robust accounts of justification and certainty can be developed within infinitism. First, I explain how the infinitist conception of epistemic justification differs from both the foundationalist and coherentist conceptions. Second, I explain how the infinitist can provide a solution to the epistemic regress problem. Third, I explain how infinitism, per se, is compatible with both the views of those who hold 1) that knowledge requires certainty and that such high-grade knowledge is possible as well as those who deny either or both conjuncts in 1). In other words, infinitism neither endorses nor rejects skepticism, taking that view to mean that we do not have knowledge in those areas commonly thought to be within our ken. KEY WORDS – Certainty. Coherentism. Foundationalism. Infinitism. Pyrrhonism. Epistemic regress. (shrink)
As the Pyrrhonians made clear, reasons that adequately justify beliefs can have only three possible structures: foundationalism, coherentism, and infinitism. Infinitism—the view that adequate reasons for our beliefs are infinite and non-repeating—has never been developed carefully, much less advocated. In this paper, I will argue that only infinitism can satisfy two intuitively plausible constraints on good reasoning: the avoidance of circular reasoning and the avoidance of arbitrariness. Further, I will argue that infinitism requires serious, but salutary, revisions in our evaluation (...) of the power of reasoning. Thus, reasoning can not provide a basis for assenting to a proposition—where to assent to a proposition, p, means to believe that we know that p. A non-dogmatic form of provisional justification will be sketched. Finally, the best objections to infinitism, including those posed by the Pyrrhonians, will be shown (at least provisionally!) to be inadequate. (shrink)
In Metaepistemology and Skepticism (Rowman & Littlefield:\n1995), Richard Fumerton defends foundationalism. As part of\nthe defense he rejects infinitism--the view that holds that\nthe solution to the problem of the regress of justificatory\nreasons is that the reasons are infinitely many and\nnonrepeating. I examine some of those arguments and attempt\nto show that they are not really telling against (at least\nsome versions of) infinitism. Along the way I present some\nobjections to his account of inferential justification.
I "argue" that by knowingly accepting a set of propositions which is logically inconsistent, An epistemic agent need not violate any valid epistemic rule. Those types of logically inconsistent sets which it is permissible to accept are distinguished from those which may not be accepted. The results of the discussion are applied to the lottery paradox set of propositions and the preface paradox set. I also "suggest" that it may be an epistemic virtue to accept some inconsistent sets.
Philosophers have sought to characterize a type of knowledge — what I call real knowledge — which is significantly different from the ordinary concept of knowledge. The concept of knowledge as true, justified belief — what I call knowledge simpliciter — failed to depict the sought after real knowledge because the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions of knowledge simpliciter can be felicitously but accidentally fulfilled. Real knowledge is knowledge simpliciter plus a set of requirements which guarantee that the truth, belief (...) and justification conditions are not accidentally conjoined. Two of those requirements have received considerable attention in recent literature by the defeasibility theorists and the causal theorists. I argue that a third requirement is needed to block the merely coincidental cosatisfaction of the belief and justification conditions and to capture our intuitions about the epistemic agent who possesses real knowledge. That condition ascribes a disposition to the real knower to believe all and only justified propositions in virtue of his/her belief that the propositions are justified. Two consequences of that requirement are discussed: (1) if S really knows that p, then S knows simpliciter that S knows simpliciter that p and (2) the iterative feature of real knowledge mentioned in (1) provides a basis for the rejection of a particularly pernicious form of scepticism. (shrink)