In his topical article, Andrew Cling claims that the best extant formulation of the so-called epistemic regressproblem rests on five assumptions that are too strong. Cling offers an improved version that rests on a different set of three core epistemic assumptions, each of which he argues for. Despite of owing a great deal to Cling’s ideas, I argue that the epistemic regressproblem surfaces from more fundamental assumptions than those offered by Cling. There are ultimately (...) two core assumptions—in fact two contradictory strands within the concept of epistemic support—which jointly create a powerful challenge for our pursuit of paramount epistemic values. (shrink)
The article argues that theorists who try to justify 'ought'-claims, i.e., who try to show that a standard of behavior has normative authority, will run into a regressproblem. The problem is similar in structure to the familiar regress in the justification of belief. The point of the paper is not skeptical. Rather, the aim is to help theorists better understand the challenges associated with formulating a theory of normative authority.
Abstract In the contemporary literature on self-knowledge discussion is framed by and large by two competing models of self-knowledge: the observational (or perceptual) model and the constitutive model. On the observational model self-knowledge is the result of ?cognitively viewing? one's mental states. Constitutive theories of self-knowledge, on the other hand, hold that self-knowledge is constitutive of intentional states. That is, self-ascription is a necessary condition for being in a particular mental state. Akeel Bilgrami is a defender of the constitutive model. (...) I argue that the constitutive model gives rise to a regressproblem. This paper will focus on that problem as well as its application to Bilgrami's version of the constitutive model. (shrink)
This chapter has two goals: to motivate the foundationalist solution to the regressproblem 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 foundationalism and access (...) internalism form a coherent and well-motivated package. (shrink)
The best extant statement of the epistemic regressproblem makes assumptions that are too strong. An improved version assumes only that that reasons require support, that no proposition is supported only by endless regresses of reasons, and that some proposition is supported. These assumptions are individually plausible but jointly inconsistent. Attempts to explain support by means of unconceptualized sensations, contextually immunized propositions, endless regresses, and holistic coherence all require either additional reasons or an external condition on support that (...) is arbitrary from the believer’s own point of view. (shrink)
Andrew Cling presents a new version of the epistemic regressproblem, and argues that intuitionist foundationalism, social contextualism, holistic coherentism, and infinitism fail to solve it. Cling’s discussion is quite instructive, and deserving of careful consideration. But, I argue, Cling’s discussion is not in all respects decisive. I argue that Cling’s dilemma argument against holistic coherentism fails.
In this paper I assess the two central ingredients of Laurence BonJour’s position on empirical knowledge that have survived the transition from his earlier coherentist views to his current endorsement of the doctrine of the given: his construal of the problem of the epistemic regress and his rejection of an internalist solution to the problem. The bulk of the paper is devoted to a critical assessment of BonJour’s arguments against externalism. I argue that they fail to put (...) real pressure on externalism, as they rely on a highly questionable conception of epistemic rationality and responsibility. Then, more briefly, I take issue with BonJour’s endorsement of the irrelevance thesis—the claim that even if externalism were true it would not offer a satisfactory solution to the epistemic regressproblem. I contend that he is not entitled to subscribe this thesis unless he is prepared to abandon his construal of the problem. (shrink)
This paper is intended to meet some objections that Vermazen has raised about the treatment of the regress-problem in the author's book on the philosophy of action. This problem is shown to involve a skeptical claim about the very existence of actions as distinct from happenings. It is argued, against Vermazen's contention, that only one version of the problem is at work in that book and that, while Danto's basic actions, McCann's volitions and O'Shaughnessy's and Hornsby's (...) tryings do not solve, after analysis, that version of the problem, the author's proposal does in fact provide a solution to it. (shrink)
Foundationalism is false; after all, foundational beliefs are arbitrary, they do not solve the epistemic regressproblem, 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.
I provide a construal of the epistemic regressproblem 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 regressproblem 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)
I provide a construal of the epistemic regressproblem 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 regressproblem 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 foundationalismthat ascribe foundational status to experiential beliefs. It can also be used (...) to generate aversion of internalist foundationalism based on reliabilist principles. (shrink)
Some philosophers, Such as n r hanson, Have suggested that one's perceiving an object entails one's having a particular perceptual belief, And not just some belief or other, About that object. This article constructs an argument showing that such a view generates an infinite regress of required perceptual beliefs.
What follows is a taxonomy of arguments that regresses of inferential justification are vicious. They fall out into four general classes: (A) conceptual arguments from incompleteness, (B) conceptual arguments from arbitrariness, (C) ought-implies-can arguments from human quantitative incapacities, and (D) ought-implies can arguments from human qualitative incapacities. They fail with a developed theory of “infinitism” consistent with valuational pluralism and modest epistemic foundationalism.
Neste artigo eu ofereço uma nova abordagem para resolução do problema do regresso epistêmico. Tal problema pode ser considerado um dos mais tradicionais problemas em epistemologia, que nos segue desde a antiguidade. As teses tradicionais que tentam responder a este problema possuem dificuldades ainda não respondidas satisfatoriamente, fato que, inicialmente, serve de motivação para a procura de uma nova resposta. Primeiramente, apresento o problema do regresso epistêmico e as respostas tradicionais oferecidas na sua resolução. Como veremos todas elas possuem problemas (...) sérios que comprometem a plausibilidade das mesmas, a saber, (i) não respondem adequadamente quando é apropriado interromper o regresso e (ii) não especificam ou determinam o grau de justificação requerido para o conhecimento. Em seguida, eu argumentarei em favor da tese que chamarei de Contextualismo Justificacionista, mostrando que ela consegue responder adequadamente (i) e (ii). (shrink)
In this paper, I will give a presentation of Bradley's two main arguments against the reality of relations. Whereas one of his arguments is highly specific to Bradley's metaphysical background, his famous regress argument seems to pose a serious threat not only for ontological pluralism, but especially for states of affairs as an ontological category. Amongst the proponents of states-of-affairs ontologies two groups can be distinguished: One group holds states of affairs to be complexes consisting of their particular and (...) universal constituents alone, the other holds that there has to be a "unifying relation" of some sort to establish the unity of a given state of affairs. Bradley's regress is often conceived to be a compelling argument against the first and for the latter. I will argue that the latter approaches have no real advantage over the simpler theories—neither in the light of Bradley's regress nor in other respects. (shrink)
What is it for a particular to have a property? many proposed analyses of this situation may be called relational accounts. The particular has some relation, R, To some entity p. R may be the relation of falling under, Being a member of, Resembling or "participating." p may be a predicate, A concept, A class, A paradigm instance or a form. A number of arguments seek to prove that all these accounts are involved in various vicious infinite regresses. These arguments (...) are classified, Their resemblances and differences noted, And their soundness assessed. (edited). (shrink)
In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that the celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved. Attempts to recreate the problem in the material theory of induction fail. They require relations of inductive support to conform to an unsustainable, hierarchical empiricism.
I show how a robot with what looks like a hard problem of consciousness might emerge from the earnest attempt to make a robot that is smart and self-reflective. This problem arises independently of any assumption to the effect that the robot is conscious, but deserves to be thought of as related to the human problem in virtue of the fact that (1) the problem is one the robot encounters when it tries to naturalistically reduce its (...) own subjective states (2) it seems incredibly difficult from the robot’s own naturalist perspective and, most importantly, (3) it invites the robot to engage in the exact same metaphysical responses as humans offer to the problem of consciousness. Despite the fact that it invites the robot to consider extravagant metaphysical solutions, the problem I explore is purely algorithmic. The robot cannot complete its naturalist physicalist reduction as a matter of algorithmic fact, whether or not the naturalist physicalist reduction would be correct as a matter of metaphysical fact. It is hoped that by reproducing the familiar seeming problem in an artificial context, a greater understanding of the human problem of consciousness can be achieved. (shrink)
We have earlier shown by construction that a proposition can have a welldefined nonzero probability, even if it is justified by an infinite probabilistic regress. We thought this to be an adequate rebuttal of foundationalist claims that probabilistic regresses must lead either to an indeterminate, or to a determinate but zero probability. In a comment, Frederik Herzberg has argued that our counterexamples are of a special kind, being what he calls ‘solvable’. In the present reaction we investigate what Herzberg (...) means by solvability. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of making solvability a sine qua non , and we ventilate our misgivings about Herzberg’s suggestion that the notion of solvability might help the foundationalist. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Jeanne Peijnenburg and David Atkinson [ Studia Logica , 89(3):333-341 (2008)] have challenged the foundationalist rejection of infinitism by giving an example of an infinite, yet explicitly solvable regress of probabilistic justification. So far, however, there has been no criterion for the consistency of infinite probabilistic regresses, and in particular, foundationalists might still question the consistency of the solvable regress proposed by Peijnenburg and Atkinson.
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.
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.
In a recent paper, “Infinitism and Epistemic Normativity,” we have problematized the relationship between infinitism and epistemic normativity. Responding to our criticisms, John Turri has offered a defense of infinitism. In this paper, we argue that Turri’s defense fails, leaving infinitism vulnerable to the originally raised objections.
Infinite regress arguments play an important role in many distinct philosophical debates. Yet, exactly how they are to be used to demonstrate anything is a matter of serious controversy. In this paper I take up this metaphilosophical debate, and demonstrate how infinite regress arguments can be used for two different purposes: either they can refute a universally quantified proposition (as the Paradox Theory says), or they can demonstrate that a solution never solves a given problem (as the (...) Failure Theory says). In the meantime, I show that Black’s view on infinite regress arguments (1996, this journal) is incomplete, and how his criticism of Passmore can be countered. (shrink)
This dissertation is on infinite regress arguments in philosophy. Its main goals are to explain what such arguments from many distinct philosophical debates have in common, and to provide guidelines for using and evaluating them. Two theories are reviewed: the Paradox Theory and the Failure Theory. According to the Paradox Theory, infinite regress arguments can be used to refute an existentially or universally quantified statement (e.g. to refute the statement that at least one discussion is settled, or the (...) statement that discussions are settled only if there is an agreed-upon criterion to settle them). According to the Failure Theory, infinite regress arguments can be used to demonstrate that a certain solution fails to solve an existentially or universally quantified problem (e.g. to demonstrate that a certain solution fails to settle all discussions, or that it fails to settle even one discussion). In the literature, the Paradox Theory is fairly well-developed, and this dissertation provides the Failure Theory with the same tools. (shrink)
This paper is about the Problem of Order, which is basically the problem how to account for both the distinctness of facts like a’s preceding b and b’s preceding a, and the identity of facts like a’s preceding b and b’s succeeding a. It has been shown that the Standard View fails to account for the second part and is therefore to be replaced. One of the contenders is Anti-Positionalism. As has recently been pointed out, however, Anti-Positionalism falls (...) prey to a regress argument which is to prove its failure. In the paper we spell out this worry, show that the worry is a serious one, and distinguish four possible strategies for Anti-Positionalism to deal with it. (shrink)
If an argument can be reconstructed in at least two different ways, then which reconstruction is to be preferred? In this paper I address this problem of argument reconstruction in terms of Ryle’s infinite regress argument against the view that knowledge-how requires knowledge-that. First, I demonstrate that Ryle’s initial statement of the argument does not fix its reconstruction as it admits two, structurally different reconstructions. On the basis of this case and infinite regress arguments generally, I defend (...) a revisionary take on argument reconstruction: argument reconstruction is mainly to be ruled by charity (viz. by general criteria which arguments have to fulfil in order to be good arguments) rather than interpretation. (shrink)
In the literature, regress arguments often take one of two different forms: either they conclude that a given solution fails to solve any problem of a certain kind (the strong conclusion), or they conclude that a given solution fails to solve all problems of a certain kind (the weaker conclusion). This gives rise to a logical problem: do regresses entail the strong or the weaker conclusion, or none? In this paper I demonstrate that regress arguments can (...) in fact take both forms, and clearly set out the logical difference between them. Throughout the paper, I confine myself to metaphysical examples from the early Russell. Only now that we know they are valid can we start to discuss whether they are sound. (shrink)
Thomas Reid has a theory of consciousness that is central to his philosophy of mind but which raises a regressproblem. I have two tasks in this paper. The first is to give an account of Reid's views on consciousness and the avoidance of the regress based on textual analysis. The second is to expand the theory of consciousness Reid gives to offer a deeper explanation of how the regress is avoided that is based on Reid's (...) philosophy of mind but goes beyond any text from Reid that I know. The distinction is important. Philosophers are inclined to attribute to a philosopher views that they have invented by studying the philosopher. Both textual analysis and invention based on a philosopher's writings are legitimate uses of the history of philosophy. When they are confused, however, arguments about what the philosopher held generate confusion. If you invent something from his or her philosophy, even something implied by it, that is your philosophy, not the philosopher's. The distinction is important for avoiding useless disputes. This first part of my paper is an attempt to remain true to the texts of Reid. The second part goes beyond the text, though it is what I extrapolate from Reid. (shrink)
Barker and Smart have argued that dispositional monism is just as susceptible to the ultimate regressproblem as Armstrong’s contingent necessitation view of laws. In this response, I consider what implications this conclusion has for the dispositional essentialist project more generally. I argue that it is the monistic aspect of dispositional monism, rather than the dispositional essentialist aspect, which is the source of the problem raised by Barker and Smart. I then outline a version of dispositional essentialism (...) which avoids the ultimate problem by avoiding the commitment to monism. Despite the article by Barker and Smart, it is not time to give up on the dispositionalist project yet. (shrink)
I describe the general structure of most infinite regress arguments; introduce some basic vocabulary; present a working hypothesis of the nature and derivation of an infinite regress; apply this working hypothesis to various infinite regress arguments to explain why they fail to entail an infinite regress; describe a common mistake in attempting to derive certain infinite regresses; and examine how infinite regresses function as a premise.
J.L. Mackie’s version of the logical problem of evil is a failure, as even he came to recognize. Contrary to current mythology, however, its failure was not established by Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. That’s because a defense is successful only if it is not reasonable to refrain from believing any of the claims that constitute it, but it is reasonable to refrain from believing the central claim of Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, namely the claim that, possibly, every essence (...) suffers from transworld depravity. (shrink)
Trope theory is the view that the world is a world of abstract particular qualities. But if all there is are tropes, how do we account for the truth of propositions ostensibly made true by some concrete particular? A common answer is that concrete particulars are nothing but tropes in compresence. This answer seems vulnerable to an argument (first presented by F. H. Bradley) according to which any attempt to account for the nature of relations will end up either in (...) contradiction, nonsense, or will lead to a vicious infinite regress. I investigate Bradley’s argument and claim that it fails to prove what it sets out to. It fails, I argue, because it does not take all the different ways in which relation and relata may depend on one another into account. If relations are entities that are distinct from yet essentially dependent upon their relata, the Bradleyan problem is solved. We are then free to say that tropes in compresence are what make true propositions ostensibly made true by concrete particulars. (shrink)
If we make the basic assumption that the components of a proposition have reference on the model of proper name and bearer, we face the problem of distinguishing the proposition from a mere list' of names. We neutralize the problem posed by that assumption of we first of all follow Wiggins and distinguish, in every predicate, a strictly predicative element (the copula), and a strictly non-predicative conceptual component (available to be quantified over). If we further allow the copula (...) itself to conform to the basic assumption, a regress ( Bradley's regress') arises: the referent of the copula will be instantiation, the instantiation of instantiation etc. To avert the regress, Wiggins simply legislates that the basic assumption is to fail for the copula. But we are entitled to regard the regress as constitution not a difficulty, but the solution: the infinitism it imports (capturable in a finitistic theory of meaning) is just what the unity of the proposition "is". (edited). (shrink)
: The doctrine of karma and rebirth is often praised for its ability to offer a successful solution to the Problem of Evil. This essay evaluates such a claim by considering whether the doctrine can function as a systematic theodicy, as an explanation of all human suffering in terms of wrongs done in either this or past lives. This purported answer to the Problem of Evil must face a series of objections, including the problem of anylackofmemoryofpastlives,the lack (...) of proportionality between wrongdoing and the observed suffering in the world, the problem of infinite regress of explanation, and the problem of compatibility of free will with karmic determinism. These objections, either separately or taken together, provide (it is argued) sufficient reason to doubt whether the doctrine of karma and rebirth can in fact provide a satisfactory theodicy. (shrink)
A version of Bradley's regress can be endorsed in an effort to address the problem of the unity of states of affairs or facts, thereby arriving at a doctrine that I have called fact infinitism . A consequence of it is the denial of the thesis, WF, that all chains of ontological dependence are well-founded or grounded. Cameron has recently rejected fact infinitism by arguing that WF, albeit not necessarily true, is however contingently true. Here fact infinitism is (...) supported by showing that Cameron's argument for the contingent truth of WF is unsuccessful. (shrink)
The “demarcation problem,” the issue of how to separate science from pseu- doscience, has been around since fall 1919—at least according to Karl Pop- per’s (1957) recollection of when he first started thinking about it. In Popper’s mind, the demarcation problem was intimately linked with one of the most vexing issues in philosophy of science, David Hume’s problem of induction (Vickers 2010) and, in particular, Hume’s contention that induction cannot be logically justified by appealing to the fact (...) that “it works,” as that in itself is an inductive argument, thereby potentially plunging the philosopher straight into the abyss of a viciously circular argument. (shrink)
On the “Russellian” solution to the Gettier problem, every Gettier case involves the implicit or explicit use of a false premise on the part of the subject. We distinguish between two senses of “justification” ---“legitimation” and “justification proper.” The former does not require true premises, but the latter does. We then argue that in Gettier cases the subject possesses “legitimation” but not “justification proper,” and we respond to many attempted counterexamples, including several variants of the Nogot scenario, a case (...) involving induction, and the case of the sight-seer and the barn. Finally, we show that, given our analysis, any challenge to a belief’s justification on the grounds that it might be “Gettierized” only requires an argument that one’s premises are themselves likely to be true, moving backwards along the object-Ievel regress. Hence, a move to externalism is neither useful nor necessary in response to the Gettier problem. (shrink)