Synthese 196 (9):3869-3887 (2019)

Tim Oakley
La Trobe University
Epistemic infinitism, advanced in different forms by Peter Klein, Scott Aikin, and David Atkinson and Jeanne Peijnenburg, is the theory that justification of a proposition for a person requires the availability to that person of an infinite, non-repeating chain of propositions, each providing a justifying reason for its successor in the chain. The reductio argument is the argument to the effect that infinitism has the consequence that no one is justified in any proposition, because there will be an infinite chain of reasons supporting any proposition. Four ways of defending infinitism against the reductio argument are considered and found wanting: Peijnenburg and Atkinson’s use of probabilistic chains of reasons; Klein’s concept of emergent justification; Aikin’s insistence that there be non-propositional input in the justification of any proposition; and Klein’s use of the distinction between reasons that are and are not available to a person. I contend that, in the absence of some further defence, the reductio argument makes infinitism untenable.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-017-1629-z
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