Infinitism

Oxford Bibliographies (2015)

Authors
John Turri
University of Waterloo
Abstract
Infinitism, along with foundationalism and coherentism, is a logically possible solution to the epistemic regress problem. But unlike the other two views, infinitism has only been developed and defended as a plausible solution since the late 1990’s. Infinitists grant that although there is an ending point of any actual chain of cited reasons for a belief, no belief (including the last one cited) is fully justified until a reason for it is provided. In addition to differing with foundationalism about the existence of so-called basic beliefs, infinitism depicts reasoning as a process through which full doxastic justification is generated, rather than as a device for merely transferring doxastic justification from one belief to another. Thus, like coherentism, infinitism attempts to account for the origin of epistemic doxastic justification without invoking self-justified beliefs whose justification is transmitted through reasoning. But infinitism parts company with coherentism by maintaining (1) that circular reasoning is unable to provide a doxastic justification for any belief and (2) that there is a linear epistemic structure of our beliefs that reflects the fact that some beliefs are epistemically prior to others.
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