According to memory foundationalism, seeming to remember that P is prima facie justification for believing that P. There is a common objection to this theory: If I previously believed that P carelessly (i.e. without justification) and later seem to remember that P, then (according to memory foundationalism) I have somehow acquired justification for a previously unjustified belief. In this paper, I explore this objection. I begin by distinguishing between two versions of it: One where I seem to remember (...) that P while also seeming to remember being careless in my original believing that P and the other where I seem to remember that P while not seeming to remember my past carelessness. I argue that the former case is the real challenge for memory foundationalism. After establishing the case of unforgotten carelessness as objection to memory foundationalism, I recast memory foundationalism in way that allows it to escape this objection. (shrink)
Foundationalism is false; after all, foundational beliefs are arbitrary, they do not solve the epistemic regress problem, and they cannot exist withoutother (justified) beliefs. Or so some people say. In this essay, we assess some arguments based on such claims, arguments suggested in recent work by Peter Klein and Ernest Sosa.
In “Compassionate Phenomenal Conservatism” (2007), “Phenomenal Conservatism and the Internalist Intuition” (2006), and Skepticism and the Veil of Perception (2001), Michael Huemer endorses the principle of phenomenal conservatism, according to which appearances or seemings constitute a fundamental source of (defeasible) justification for belief. He claims that those who deny phenomenal conservatism, including classical foundationalists, are in a self-defeating position, for their views cannot be both true and justified; that classical foundationalists have difficulty accommodating false introspective beliefs; and that phenomenal conservatism (...) is most faithful to the central internalist intuition. I argue that Huemer’s self-defeat argument fails, that classical foundationalism is able to accommodate fallible introspective beliefs, and that classical foundationalism captures a relatively clear internalist intuition. I also show that the motivation for phenomenal conservatism is less than clear. (shrink)
Semantic holists view what one's terms mean as function of all of one's usage. Holists will thus be coherentists about semantic justification: showing that one's usage of a term is semantically justified involves showing how it coheres with the rest of one's usage. Semantic atomists, by contrast, understand semantic justification in a foundationalist fashion. Saul Kripke has, on Wittgenstein's behalf, famously argued for a type of skepticism about meaning and semantic justification. However, Kripke's argument has bite only if one understands (...) semantic justification in foundationalist terms. Consequently, Kripke's arguments lead not to a type of skepticism about meaning, but rather to the conclusion that one should be a coherentist about semantic justification, and thus a holist about semantic facts. (shrink)
According to foundationalism, some beliefs are justified but do not depend for their justification on any other beliefs. According to access internalism, a subject is justified in believing some proposition only if that subject is aware of or has access to some reason to think that the proposition is true or probable. In this paper I discusses a fundamental challenge to internalist foundationalism often referred to as the Sellarsian dilemma. I consider three attempts to respond to the dilemma (...) – phenomenal conservatism, BonJour’s classical foundationalism, and Fumerton’s classical foundationalism. I argue that, of these three, only the last seems to avoid getting impaled on one or the other horn of the dilemma. I end by responding to some concerns with Fumerton’s account. (shrink)
In Justification without Awareness (2006), Michael Bergmann presents a dilemma for internalism from which he claims there is “no escape”: The awareness allegedly required for justification is either strong awareness, which involves conceiving of some justification-contributor as relevant to the truth of a belief, or weak awareness, which does not. Bergmann argues that the former leads to an infinite regress of justifiers, while the latter conflicts with the “clearest and most compelling” motivation for endorsing internalism, namely, that for a belief (...) to be justified its truth must not be an accident from the subject’s perspective. Bergmann’s dilemma might initially seem to have the force of a knock-down argument against the classical foundationalist accounts he considers, if not against all forms of internalism. I argue, however, that the weak-awareness horn of Bergmann’s dilemma is unsuccessful. Classical foundationalists can hold on to the main motivation for internalism and avoid a vicious regress of justifiers. (shrink)
We find two main contemporary arguments for the infinitist theory of epistemic justification ('infinitism' for short): the regress argument (Klein 1999, 2005) and the features argument (Fantl 2003). I've addressed the former elsewhere (Turri 2009a). Here I address the latter.Jeremy Fantl argues that infinitism outshines foundationalism because infinitism alone can explain two of epistemic justification's crucial features, namely, that it comes in degrees and can be complete. This paper demonstrates foundationalism's ample resources for explaining both features.Section II clarifies (...) the debate's key terms. Section III recounts how infinitism explains the two crucial features. Section IV presents Fantl's argument .. (shrink)
Some argue that Candrakīrti is committed to rejecting all theories of perception in virtue of the rejection of the foundationalisms of the Nyāya and the Pramāṇika. Others argue that Candrakīrti endorses the Nyāya theory of perception. In this paper, I will propose an alternative non-foundationalist theory of perception for Candrakīriti. I will show that Candrakrti’s works provide us sufficient evidence to defend a typical Prāsagika’s account of perception that, I argue, complements his core non-foundationalist ontology.
An influential tradition in the philosophy of causation has it that all token causal facts are, or are reducible to, facts about difference-making. Challenges to this tradition have typically focused on pre-emption cases, in which a cause apparently fails to make a difference to its effect. However, a novel challenge to the difference-making approach has recently been issued by Alyssa Ney. Ney defends causal foundationalism, which she characterizes as the thesis that facts about difference-making depend upon facts about physical (...) causation. She takes this to imply that causation is not fundamentally a matter of difference-making. In this paper, I defend the difference-making approach against Ney’s argument. I also offer some positive reasons for thinking, pace Ney, that causation is fundamentally a matter of difference-making. (shrink)
In this paper, I show the complementarity of foundationalism and coherentism with respect to any efficient system of beliefs by means of a distinction between two types of proposition drawn from an analogy with an axiomatic system. This distinction is based on the way a given proposition is acknowledged as true, either by declaration (F-proposition) or by preservation (C-proposition). Within such a perspective, i.e., epistemological complementarism, not only can one see how the usual opposition between foundationalism and coherentism (...) is irrelevant, but furthermore one can appreciate the reciprocal relation between these two theories as they refer to two separate epistemological functions involved in the dynamics of constituting and expanding an epistemic system. (shrink)
Foundationalists distinguish basic from nonbasic beliefs. At a first approximation, to say that a belief of a person is basic is to say that it is epistemically justified and it owes its justification to something other than her other beliefs, where “belief” refers to the mental state that goes by that name. To say that a belief of a person is nonbasic is to say that it is epistemically justified and not basic. Two theses constitute Foundationalism: (a) Minimality: There (...) are some basic beliefs, and (b) Exclusivity: If there are any nonbasic beliefs, that is solely because they (ultimately) owe their justification to some basic belief. Proponents of Minimality but not Exclusivity endorse Minimal Foundationalism. Proponents of Exclusivity but not Minimality endorse either Epistemic Nihilism, the view that there are no justified beliefs, or some non-foundationalist epistemology such as Coherentism or Infinitism. In this essay I aim to characterize the notion of a basic belief more precisely and to assess some arguments for and against Foundationalism. In the process, I hope to exhibit the resilience and attractiveness of Foundationalism. (shrink)
This paper argues against foundationalism not on the familiar ground that a person may be mistaken about the object of any of his cognitive states, But on the new ground that a person may be mistaken in identifying any mental states as cognitive. The argument is claimed to hold against all version of foundationalism.
Contemporary foundationalists prefer Moderate Foundationalism over Strong Foundationalism. In this paper, we assess two arguments against the former which have been recently defended by Timothy McGrew. Three theses are central to the discussion: that only beliefs can be probabilifying evidence, that justification is internal, in McGrew’s sense of the term, and that only beliefs can be nonarbitrary justifying reasons.
Donald Davidson’s epistemology is predicated on, among other things, the rejection of Experiential Foundationalism, which he calls ‘unintelligible’. In this essay, I assess Davidson’s arguments for this conclusion. I conclude that each of them fails on the basis of reasons that foundationalists and antifoundationalists alike can, and should, accept.
This chapter has two goals: to motivate the foundationalist solution to the regress problem and to defend it against arguments from Sellars, BonJour and Klein. Both the motivation and the defence of foundationalism raise larger questions about the relationship between foundationalism and access internalism. I argue that foundationalism is not in conflict with access internalism, despite influential arguments to the contrary, and that access internalism in fact supplies a theoretical motivation for foundationalism. I conclude that (...) class='Hi'>foundationalism and access internalism form a coherent and well-motivated package. (shrink)
In this essay, I assess Keith Lehrer's case against Foundationalism, which consists of variations on three objections: The Independent Information or Belief Objection, The Risk of Error Objection, and the Hidden Argument Objection. I conclude that each objection fails for reasons that can be endorsed – indeed, I would say for reasons that should be endorsed – by antifoundationalists and foundationalists alike.
It is commonly assumed, at least by continental philosophers, that epistemological hermeneutics and foundationalism are incompatible. I argue that this assumption is mistaken. If I am correct, the analytic and continental traditions may be closer than is commonly supposed. Hermeneutics, as I will argue, is a descriptive claim about human cognition, and foundationalism is a normative claim about how beliefs ought to be related to one another. Once the positions are stated in this way, their putative incompatibility vanishes. (...) Also, to inspire further research I include an appendix which contains an unfinished prototype of a hermeneutic foundationalism. (shrink)
What makes a norm a genuinely authoritative guide to action? For many theorists, the answer takes a foundationalist form, analogous to foundationalism in epistemology. They say that there is at least one norm that is justified in itself. On most versions, the norm is said to be incorrigibly authoritative. All other norms are justified in virtue of their connection with it. This essay argues that all such foundationalist theories of normative authority fail because they cannot give an account of (...) the privileged status of an allegedly foundational norm. (shrink)
Nonskeptical foundationalists say that there are basic beliefs. But, one might object, either there is a reason why basic beliefs are likely to be true or there is not. If there is, then they are not basic; if there is not, then they are arbitrary. I argue that this dilemma is not nearly as decisive as its author, Peter Klein, would have us believe.
It is no part of my purpose in this paper to advocate Minimal Foundationalism. In fact I believe there to be strong objections to any form of foundationalism, and I feel that some kind of coherence or contextualist theory will provide a more adequate general orientation in epistemology. Will and Lehrer are to be commended for providing, in their different ways, important insights into some possible ways of developing a nonfoundationalist epistemology. Nevertheless if foundationalism is to be (...) successfully disposed of it must be attacked in its most defensible, not in its most vulnerable, form. Although Will and Lehrer reveal weaknesses in historically important forms of foundationalism, it has been my aim in this paper to show that their arguments leave untouched the more modest and less vulnerable form I have called ‘Minimal Foundationalism’, a form approximated to by the most prominent contemporary versions of the position. It is to be hoped that those who are interested in clearing the decks for an epistemology without foundations will turn their critical weapons against such modest and careful foundationalists as Chisholm, Danto, and Quinton. (shrink)
Bringing the views of Grayling, Moyal-Sharrock and Stroll together, I argue that in On Certainty, Wittgenstein explores the possibility of a new kind of foundationalism. Distinguishing propositional language-games from non-propositional, actional certainty, Wittgenstein investigates a foundationalism sui generis . Although he does not forthrightly state, defend, or endorse what I am characterizing as a "new kind of foundationalism," we must bear in mind that On Certainty was a collection of first draft notes written at the end of (...) Wittgenstein's life. The work was unprogrammatic, sometimes cryptic. Yet, his exploration into areas of knowledge, certitude and doubt suggest an identifiable direction to his thoughts. (shrink)
Outlines a tenable version of a traditional foundationalist account\nof empirical justification and its implications for the justification\nof beliefs about physical or material objects. Presupposing the acceptability\nof other beliefs about physical objects; Concept of a basic belief;\nMetabeliefs about one's own occurrent beliefs; Beliefs about sensory\nexperience.
The recent eruption of scholarship surrounding the nature and tenability of foundationalism in the work of Edmund Husserl offers the impetus and opportunity to (re)examine Theodor Adorno’s Metacritique of Epistemology. In that text, Adorno attempts an immanent critique of phenomenology designed to expose the antinomies that vitiate not only Husserl’s philosophy but any foundationalist epistemology. A detailed analysis of Adorno’s arguments and Husserl’s texts reveals that while Adorno successfully locates a hidden contradiction within Husserl’s notion of ‘perceptual fulfillment,’ his (...) attack on ‘categorial intuition’ misfires. These mixed results call out for renewed and refined exercises in the immanent critique of foundationalism. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that internalistic foundationalist theories of the justification of memory belief are inadequate. Taking a discussion of John Pollock as a starting point, I argue against any theory that requires a memory belief to be based on a phenomenal state in order to be justified. I then consider another version of internalistic foundationalism and claim that it, too, is open to important objections. Finally, I note that both varieties of foundationalism fail to account for (...) the epistemic status of our justified nonoccurrent beliefs, and hence are drastically incomplete. (shrink)
In this essay, which draws on a set of interrelated issues in the phenomenology of perception, I call into question the assumption that Buddhist philosophers of the Dignāga-Dharmakīrti tradition pursue a kind of epistemic foundationalism. I argue that the embodied cognition paradigm, which informs recent efforts within the Western philosophical tradition to overcome the Cartesian legacy, can be also found– albeit in a modified form–in the Buddhist epistemological tradition. In seeking to ground epistemology in the phenomenology of cognition, the (...) Buddhist epistemologist, I claim, is operating on principles similar to those found in Husserl’s phenomenological tradition. (shrink)
Susan Haack has always maintained that her unquestionably important foundherentist theory of epistemic justification is not a foundationalism. In a 1997 Synthese exchange, Laurence BonJour questioned her right to this claim, and she dug in and defended it. What was at stake is of timeless importance to epistemology: it goes directly to the question, “What is foundationalism?” I inquire with greater care than either Haack or BonJour took in 1997, and I find decisively in favor of the view (...) that foundherentism is a foundationalism. In the process, I explore the outer limits of foundationalism: I examine just how far a foundationalism can go in allowing the relevance of coherence to epistemic justification. (shrink)
One thing all forms of foundationalism have in common is that they hold that a belief can be justified noninferentially--i.e., that its justification need not depend on its being inferred from some other justified (or unjustified) belief. In some recent publications, Peter Klein argues that in virtue of having this feature, all forms of foundationalism are infected with an unacceptable arbitrariness that makes it irrational to be a practicing foundationalist. In this paper, I will explain why his objections (...) to foundationalism fail. (shrink)
This paper is an examination of modest foundationalism in relation to some important criteria of epistemic dependence. The paper distinguishes between causal and epistemic dependence and indicates how each might be related to reasons. Four kinds of reasons are also distinguished: reasons to believe, reasons one has for believing, reasons for which one believes, and reasons why one believes. In the light of all these distinctions, epistemic dependence is contrasted with defeasibility, and it is argued that modest foundationalism (...) is not committed to criteria of epistemic dependence on which foundational beliefs are indefeasible. Modest foundationalism is contrasted with coherentism and is shown to be hospitable to a causal criterion of epistemic dependence, compatible with reliabilism, and neutral with respect to skepticism. (shrink)
I provide a construal of the epistemic regress problem and I take issue with the contention that a foundationalist solution is incompatible with an internalist account of warrant. I sketch a foundationalist solution to the regress problem that respects a plausible version of internalism. I end with the suggestion that the strategy that I have presented is not available only to the traditional versions of foundationalism that ascribe foundational status to experiential beliefs. It can also be used to generate (...) a version of internalist foundationalism based on reliabilist principles. (shrink)
Both traditional and naturalistic epistemologists have long assumed that the examination of human psychology has no relevance to the prescriptive goal of traditional epistemology, that of providing first-person guidance in determining the truth. Contrary to both, I apply insights about the psychology of human perception and concept-formation to a very traditional epistemological project: the foundationalist approach to the epistemic regress problem. I argue that direct realism about perception can help solve the regress problem and support a foundationalist account of justification, (...) but only if it is supplemented by an abstractionist theory of concept-formation, the view that it is possible to abstract concepts directly from the empirically given. Critics of direct realism like Laurence BonJour are correct that an account of direct perception by itself does not provide an adequate account of justification. However a direct realist account of perception can inform the needed theory of concept-formation, and leading critics of abstractionism like McDowell and Sellars, direct realists about perception themselves, fail to appreciate the ways in which their own views about perception help fill gaps in earlier accounts of abstractionism. Recognizing this undercuts both their objections to abstractionism and (therefore) their objections to foundationalism. (shrink)
Foundationalism came under attack in two areas in the first half of this century. First, some doubted whether the foundations were adequate to support the entire structure of knowledge, and second, the doctrine of the Agiven@ came under serious attack. = However, many epistemologists were not convinced that foundationalism was to be abandoned even if the criticisms were granted. According to these epistemologist, far from having shown that foundationalism itself was at fault, the critics of foundationalism (...) had only been attacking one particular version of foundationalism--that version that included infallibility, incorrigibility,, or some appeal to a Agiven@ at the base of the structure of justification. The claim of these defenders was that there are other possible types of foundationalism than this version of foundationalism, which has come to be called Classical Foundationalism. And thus opened up a new area of philosophical lexicography: the attempt to say what foundationalism itself is, so that Classical Foundationalism turned out to be one instance of foundationalism but not the only possible one. (shrink)
Foundationalists and coherentists disagree over the structure of the part of the mental state corpus that is relevant for epistemic achievement (Bonjour, 1999; Dancy, 1989; Haack, 1993; Sosa, 1980; Pollock and Cruz, 1999). Given the goals of a theory of epistemic justification and the trajectory of the debate over the last three decades, it is not difficult to see how structural questions possess a kind of immediacy. In order to undertake an epistemic evaluation of a belief, one intuitive and appealing (...) strategy is to investigate the reasons for that belief to determine whether it is epistemically positive, where the reasons are typically other beliefs. This demands that we must in turn determine whether the reasons for the belief are themselves justified. A regress looms (and thus a regress argument is in the making), and foundationalism and coherentism propose proprietary views on the structural relations between beliefs with an eye toward resolving it. (shrink)
In this paper, I seek to undermine G.A. <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span>’s polemical use of a metaethical claim he makes in his article, ‘Facts and Principles’, by arguing that that use requires an unsustainable equivocation between epistemic and logical grounding. I begin by distinguishing three theses that <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> has offered during the course of his critique of Rawls and contractualism more generally, the foundationalism about grounding thesis, the justice as non-regulative thesis, and the justice as all-encompassing thesis, and briefly argue (...) that they are analytically independent of each other. I then offer an outline of the foundationalism about grounding thesis, characterising it, as <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> does, as a demand of logic. That thesis claims that whenever a normative principle is dependent on a fact, it is so dependent in virtue of some other principle. I then argue that although this is true as a matter of logic, it, as <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> admits, cannot be true of actual justifications, since logic cannot tell us anything about the truth as opposed to the validity of arguments. Facts about a justification cannot then be decisive for whether or not a given argument violates the foundationalism about grounding thesis. As long as, independently of actual justifications, theorists can point to plausible logically grounding principles, as I argue contractualists can, <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span>’s thesis lacks critical bite. (shrink)
A central problem in epistemology concerns the justification of beliefs about epistemic principles, i.e., principles stating which kinds of beliefs are justified and which not. It is generally regarded as circular to justify such beliefs empirically. However, some recent defenders of foundationalism have argued that, within a foundationalist framework, one can justify beliefs about epistemic principles empirically without incurring the charge of vicious circularity. The key to this position is a sharp distinction between first- and second-level justifiedness.In this paper (...) I first argue that such versions of foundationalism end up giving their approval to circular chains and are therefore unmotivated; if circular chains are acceptable, the classic regress argument for foundationalism does not go through. I then consider and reject two other ways in which the foundationalist might motivate his position. At the end of the paper I draw from this discussion a moral concerning the airns of epistemological theorizing. (shrink)
Like many discussions on the pros and cons of epistemic foundationalism, the debate between C.I. Lewis and H. Reichenbach dealt with three concerns: the existence of basic beliefs, their nature, and the way in which beliefs are related. In this paper we concentrate on the third matter, especially on Lewis’s assertion that a probability relation must depend on something that is certain, and Reichenbach’s claim that certainty is never needed. We note that Lewis’s assertion is prima facie ambiguous, (...) but argue that this ambiguity is only apparent if probability theory is viewed within a modal logic. Although there are empirical situations where Reichenbach is right, and others where Lewis’s reasoning seems to be more appropriate, it will become clear that Reichenbach’s stance is the generic one. This follows simply from the fact that, if P(E|G) > 0 and P(E|not-G) > 0, then P(E) > 0. We conclude that this constitutes a threat to epistemic foundationalism. (shrink)
While Process Reliabilism has long been regarded by many as a version of Foundationalism, this paper argues that there is a version of Process Reliabilism that can also been seen as at least a partial vindication of Coherentism as well. The significance of this result lies in what it tells us both about the prospects for a plausible Process Reliabilism, but also about the old-school debate between Foundationalists and Coherentists.
In this paper, I argue that Humean theories of moral motivation appear preferable to Kantian approaches only if one assumes a broadly foundationalist conception of rational justification. Like foundationalist approaches to justification generally, Humean psychology aims to counter the regress-of-justification argument by positing a set of ultimate regress-stoppers-in this case, unmotivated desires. If the need for regress-stoppers of this type in the realm of practical deliberation is accepted, desires do indeed appear to be the most likely candidate. But if this (...) foundationalist strategy is rejected, there is no longer any reason to suppose that all motivation must be traceable to some extra-rational incentive. This clears the way for a rehabilitation of the Kantian claim that reasons for action can take the form of categorical imperatives. To illustrate this thesis, I show how a conception of practical rationality that incorporates a contextualist model of justification can be developed that treats social norms as reasons for action, without assigning any mediating role to agent desires. a theory of action of this type eliminates the gap between moral obligation and action, and so articulates the fundamental Kantian intuition that acting on the basis of moral principle-and with disregard for self-interest-is just one way of acting rationally. (shrink)
Bringing to bear two major lines of argument, I claim that foundationalism is vitiated by its reliance (in its various forms) on privileged access, and by its noninstantiability. The notion of privileged access is examined, and the status of propositions said to be evocative of privileged access addressed. Noninstantiability is viewed through the current project of naturalizing epistemology, and naturalized alternatives to the rigorous foundationalism of the normative epistemologists are brought forward.
From 1929 onwards, C. I. Lewis defended the foundationalist claim that judgements of the form 'x is probable' only make sense if one assumes there to be a ground y that is certain (where x and y may be beliefs, propositions, or events). Without this assumption, Lewis argues, the probability of x could not be anything other than zero. Hans Reichenbach repeatedly contested Lewis's idea, calling it "a remnant of rationalism". The last move in this debate was a challenge by (...) Lewis, defying Reichenbach to produce a regress of probability values that yields a number other than zero. Reichenbach never took up the challenge, but we will meet it on his behalf, as it were. By presenting a series converging to a limit, we demonstrate that x can have a definite and computable probability, even if its justification consists of an infinite number of steps. Next we show the invalidity of a recent riposte of foundationalists that this limit of the series can be the ground of justification. Finally we discuss the question where justification can come from if not from a ground. (shrink)
attacks new defenders of foundationalism. Some simply took on the critics, 2 but others attempted to argue that even if the critics were right, only one form of foundationalism was suspect, not foundationalism itself. For, according to these defenders, foundationalism is not to be identified with the view of Classical Foundationalism (CE) that all of our knowledge rests on incorrigible beliefs. Rather foundationalism is the view that all of our knowledge rests on beliefs that (...) are self-warranting in some sense. Thus, even if CF is false, it does not follow that foundationalism is false. (shrink)
The idea that there is such a thing as Wittgensteinian foundationalism is a provocative one for two reasons. For one thing, Wittgenstein is widely regarded as an anti-foundationalist. For another, the very word `foundationalism' sounds like the name of a theory, and Wittgenstein famously opposed the advancing of theories and theses in philosophy. Nonetheless, in his book Moore and Wittgenstein on Certainty, Avrum Stroll has argued that Wittgenstein does indeed develop a foundationalist view in his final work, On (...) Certainty. On this basis, Stroll goes on to argue against a number of contemporary views, including forms of relativism and scientism. In what follows I will examine what Stroll calls Wittgenstein's foundationalism (in Section 1) and argue that Stroll's reading of Wittgenstein, though original and interesting, is misguided in important ways and so cannot be used against the views he opposes (in Section 2). Finally, in Section 3, I offer a brief summary of the reading of Wittgenstein that I recommend. (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.
A foundationalist account of the justification of our empirical beliefs is committed to the following two claims: (1) Sense experience is a source of justification. (2) Some empirical beliefs are basic: justified without receiving their justification from any other beliefs. In this paper, I will defend each of these claims against an objection. The objection to (1) that I will discuss is due to Donald Davidson. He writes: The relation between a sensation and a belief cannot be logical, since sensations (...) are not beliefs or other propositional attitudes. What then is the relation? The answer is, I think, obvious: the relation is causal. Sensations cause some beliefs and in this sense are the basis or ground of those beliefs. But a causal explanation of a belief does not show how or why the belief is justified.  There are two important thoughts in this passage. The first of these is explicitly expressed, the second implied: (3) Sense-experiential states are devoid of propositional content. (4) Necessarily, if a mental state can play the role of a justifier, it has propositional content. (3) and (4) entail that a sense-experiential state cannot play the role of a justifier. If that is true, then (1) is false. This, in any case, seems to me to be Davidson's argument. In response to it, I accept (4) but reject (3). This is an unusual move for foundationalists, who tend to accept (3) and deny (4). Nevertheless, it is what I take to be the right move. (shrink)
In his contribution to this volume, Avrum Stroll makes the assertion that there is ‘a feature of [Wittgenstein's] later philosophy that occurs only in On Certainty. This is a unique form of foundationalism that is neither doxastic nor non-doxastic' (Stroll, this volume, p. 2). He also holds that Wittgenstein’s increased attention to metaphorical language in explicating this foundationalism is yet another feature that sets it apart from the rest of his corpus. I raise doubts about appealing to either (...) of these aspects as a rationale for identifying a third Wittgenstein. I argue that Wittgenstein's commitment to foundationalism – to the extent we should recognise it at all – and his concern with the non-literal are not unprecedented; they are present in his earliest writings. (shrink)
The phenomenon of mutual support presents a specific challenge to the foundationalist epistemologist: Is it possible to model mutual support accurately without using circles of evidential support? We argue that the appearance of loops of support arises from a failure to distinguish different synchronic lines of evidential force. The ban on loops should be clarified to exclude loops within any such line, and basing should be understood as taking place within lines of evidence. Uncertain propositions involved in mutual support relations (...) are conduits to each other of independent evidence originating ultimately in the foundations. We examine several putative examples of benign loops of support and show that, given the distinctions noted, they can be accurately modeled in a foundationalist fashion. We define an evidential “tangle,” a relation among three propositions that appears to require a loop for modeling, and prove that all such tangles are trivial in a sense that precludes modeling them with an evidential circle. (shrink)
In Foundationalism, Coherentism, and the Levels Gambit, David Shatz argued that foundationalists must countenance a circular mediate justification of perceptual beliefs which the foundationalist holds are already immediately justified. Because the circularity of coherentist accounts of the justification of beliefs is a major basis of foundationalist criticism of coherentism, Shatz's claim is a serious challenge to foundationalism. In this paper, using a moderate foundationalism with a reliabilist conception of justification, I give an account of immediately and mediately (...) justified beliefs which shows that such a foundationalism need not accept such a circular justification (and in crucial cases cannot do so) and that Shatz's claim is therefore incorrect. (shrink)
Certain versions of liberalism exclude from public political discussions the reasons some citizens regard as most fundamental, reasons having to do with their deepest religious, philosophical, moral or political views. This liberal exclusion of deep and deeply held reasons from political discussions has been controversial. In this article I will point out a way in which the discussion seems to presuppose a foundationalist conception of human reasoning. This is rather surprising, inasmuch as one of the foremost advocates of liberalism, John (...) Rawls, is also known for being one of the first advocates of reflective equilibrium, which is clearly a coherentist approach to theory construction and justification. I will begin in Park I by making my charge against an almost embarrassingly crude presentation of the liberal position. Then in Part II I will leap to Rawls' version of liberalism, obviously by far the most sophisticated working out of the position, and try to see whether anything remains of my criticism. (shrink)
Some foundationalists have argued that epistemic warrant may be in some measure determined by features of a doxastic agent's circumstances that are not necessarily accessible to the agent. 'externalist' views of this sort have been attacked recently by laurence bonjour on the grounds that they are at odds with the ordinary notion of "epistemic rationality". I suggest that this need not be so and argue that bonjour fails to provide convincing reasons for the rejection of externalist forms of foundationalism.