The Epistemic Regress Problem, the Problem of the Criterion, and the Value of Reasons

Metaphilosophy 45 (2):161-171 (2014)
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There are important similarities between the epistemic regress problem and the problem of the criterion. Each turns on plausible principles stating that epistemic reasons must be supported by epistemic reasons but that having reasons is impossible if that requires having endless regresses of reasons. These principles are incompatible with the possibility of reasons, so each problem is a paradox. Whether there can be an antiskeptical solution to these paradoxes depends upon the kinds of reasons that we need in order to attain our epistemic goals. This article explains the problems and considers the ways in which two different conceptions of human flourishing support the value of different kinds of reasons. One conception requires reasons that allow an easy solution to these paradoxes. The other—rational autonomy—requires reasons that depend upon endless regresses. So we cannot have the kinds of fully transparent reasons required for rational autonomy



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Andrew Cling
University of Alabama, Huntsville

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