Edited by Samuel Kampa
|Summary||The generality problem for reliabilism is the problem of determining, for any given belief, which belief-forming process type is relevant for justification-determining purposes. According to process reliabilism, a belief is justified just in case its relevant belief-forming process type is reliable, where the stock of belief-forming process types includes inferring, perceiving, and the like. The relevance criterion is important because any given belief belongs to any number of belief-forming process types. For example, my belief that I am currently looking at a computer belongs to the following belief-forming process types: visual perception (V1), visual perception under favorable conditions (V2), visual perception under favorable conditions at this very place and time (V3), and so on. Some belief-forming process types are more general than others. V2 is less general than V1, but more general than V3. And some process types are more reliable than others. V2 is more reliable than V1, but less reliable than V3. Taken together, these observations give rise to the generality problem. To continue the example, it is unclear which (if any) of V1-V3 is relevant for determining whether my belief is reliably produced and hence justified. If it is V1, my belief is moderately justified; if V2, highly justified; and if V3, impeccably justified (assuming V3 yields one and only one true belief). The challenge for process reliabilism (and perhaps other theories of justification) is to provide a principled method for determining, in such cases, which belief-forming process type is relevant, and to ensure that the type picked out as relevant is neither overly broad nor overly narrow. The generality problem has proven difficult to solve, and the verdict is out on which (if any) of the responses offered in the literature is satisfactory.|
|Key works||The earliest statement of the generality problem appears in Goldman 1979. E. Conee & Feldman 1998 remains the most detailed and influential treatment of the generality problem. Attempts to solve the generality problem appear in Alston 1995, Wunderlich 2003, Beebe 2004, Becker 2008, Olsson 2015, and elsewhere. Levin 2002, Comesaña 2006, Bishop 2010, and Tolly 2017 offer parrying responses.|
|Introductions||A broad introduction appears in section 3 of Goldman 2008.|
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