Faith and Philosophy 31 (3):267-285 (2014)

Daniel Johnson
Shawnee State University
The most important and common solution to the Pyrrhonian skeptic’s regress problem is foundationalism. Reason-giving must stop somewhere, argues the foundationalist, and the fact that it does stop does not threaten knowledge or justification. The foundationalist has a problem, though; while foundationalism might adequately answer skepticism, it does not allow for a satisfying reply to the skeptic. The feature that makes a belief foundationally justified is not the sort of thing that can be given to another as a reason. Thus, if foundationalism is true, we can only fall silent in the face of a challenge to our epistemically basic beliefs. Call this the practical or existential problem of foundationalism. Thomas Reid offers a rather stunning solution to this problem. Humor, he thinks, can be used to defend basic beliefs which cannot be defended by argument. We develop and defend an account on which Reid is correct and emotions such as rueful amusement can be invoked to rationally persuade the skeptic to accept foundationally justified beliefs. Then, inspired by Kierkegaard, we extend the account to foundational moral and religious beliefs.
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References found in this work BETA

Epistemic Circularity: Malignant and Benign.Michael Bergmann - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (3):709-727.
Emotions, Perceptions, and Reasons.Michael S. Brady - 2011 - In Carla Bagnoli (ed.), Morality and the Emotions. Oxford University Press.
Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man.A. E. Pitson - 2003 - Hume Studies 29 (2):375-377.

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Citations of this work BETA

Skepticism and Circular Arguments.Daniel M. Johnson - 2013 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 3 (4):253-270.

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