Introduction -- Part I: The classical problems of epistemology -- Descartes's epistemology -- The concept of knowledge -- The problem of induction -- A priori justification and knowledge -- Immediate experience -- Knowledge of the external world -- Some further epistemological issues : other minds, testimony, and memory -- Part II: Contemporary responses to the cartesian epistemological program -- Introduction to part II -- Foundationalism and coherentism -- Internalism and externalism -- Quine and naturalized epistemology -- Knowledge and skepticism.
One of the many problems that would have t o be solved by a satisfactory theory of empirical knowledge, perhaps the most central is a general structural problem which I shall call the epistemic regress problem: the problem of how to avoid an in- finite and presumably vicious regress of justification in ones account of the justifica- tion of empirical beliefs. Foundationalist theories of empirical knowledge, as we shall see further below, attempt t o avoid the regress by locating a (...) class of empirical beliefs whose justification does not depend on that of other empirical beliefs. Extemalist theories, the topic of the present paper, represent one species of foundationalism. (shrink)
The contributions in this volume make an important effort to resurrect a rather old fashioned form of foundationalism. They defend the position that there are some beliefs that are justified, and are not themselves justified by any further beliefs. This epistemic foundationalism has been the subject of rigorous attack by a wide range of theorists in recent years, leading to the impression that foundationalism is a thing of the past. DePaul argues that it is precisely the volume and virulence of (...) the assaults which points directly to the strength and coherence of the position. (shrink)
Outlines a tenable version of a traditional foundationalist account\nof empirical justification and its implications for the justification\nof beliefs about physical or material objects. Presupposing the acceptability\nof other beliefs about physical objects; Concept of a basic belief;\nMetabeliefs about one's own occurrent beliefs; Beliefs about sensory\nexperience.
This is a unique collection of new and recently-published articles which debate the merits of virtue-theoretic approaches to the core epistemological issues of knowledge and justified belief. The readings all contribute to our understanding of the relative importance, for a theory of justified belief, of the reliability of our cognitive faculties and of the individuals responsibility in gathering and weighing evidence. Highlights of the readings include direct exchanges between leading exponents of this approach and their critics.
The historically most central epistemological issue concerning perception, to which this article will be almost entirely devoted, is whether and how beliefs about physical objects and about the physical world generally can be justified or warranted on the basis of sensory or perceptual experience—where it is internalist justification, roughly having a reason to think that the belief in question is true, that is mainly in question (see the entry justification, epistemic: internalist vs. externalist conceptions of). This issue, commonly referred to (...) as “the problem of the external world,” divides into two closely related sub-issues, which correspond to the first two main sections below. The first of these issues has to do with the nature of sensory experience and its relation to the physical world; it is typically (though as we shall see not altogether perspicuously) formulated as the question of what are the immediate objects of awareness in sensory experience or, in a variant but essentially equivalent terminology, of what is given in such experience. Perhaps the most historically standard, though not currently the most popular answer to this question has been that it is sense-data (private, non-physical entities that actually have the immediately experienced sensory qualities) that are the immediate objects of awareness or that are given. The second issue has to do with the way in which beliefs about the physical world are justified on the basis of such sensory experience. If it is concluded that physical objects are not themselves given, the two main answers to this question are representationalism or indirect realism (the view that the immediate objects of experience represent or depict physical objects in a way that allows one to infer justifiably from such experience to the existence of the corresponding “external” objects) and phenomenalism (the view.. (shrink)
Ever since Plato it has been thought that one knows only if one's belief hits the mark of truth and does so with adequate justification. The issues debated by Laurence BonJour and Ernest Sosa concern mostly the nature and conditions of such epistemic justification, and its place in our understanding of human knowledge. Presents central issues pertaining to internalism vs. externalism and foundationalism vs. virtue epistemology in the form of a philosophical debate. Introduces students to fundamental questions within epistemology while (...) engaging in contemporary debates. Written by two of today’s foremost epistemologists. Includes an extensive bibliography. (shrink)
In his widely influential two-volume work, Warrant: The Current Debate and Warrant and Proper Function, Alvin Plantinga argued that warrant is that which explains the difference between knowledge and true belief. Plantinga not only developed his own account of warrant but also mapped the terrain of epistemology. Motivated by Plantinga's work, fourteen prominent philosophers have written new essays investigating Plantingian warrant and its contribution to contemporary epistemology. The resulting collection, representing a broad array of views, not only gives readers a (...) critical perspective on Plantinga's landmark work, but also provides in one volume a clear statement of the variety of approaches to the nature of warrant within contemporary epistemology, and to the connections between epistemology and metaphysics. Positions covered include internalism and externalism, reliabilism, coherentism and foundationalism, virtue theories, and defensibility theories. Alvin Plantinga responds to the essays in his own contribution. (shrink)
One of the most influential analytic philosophers of the late twentieth century, William P. Alston is a leading light in epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. In this volume, twelve leading philosophers critically discuss the central topics of his work in these areas, including perception, epistemic circularity, justification, the problem of religious diversity, and truth.
In “Internalism and Externalism,” Laurence BonJour suggests that the contemporary epistemological debate over internalism and externalism concerns the formulation of the justification or warrant condition in an account of knowledge. The internalist requires that for a belief to meet this condition, all of the necessary elements must be cognitively accessible to the believer, whereas the externalist claims that at least some such elements do not need to be accessible to the believer. BonJour gives an overview of this dispute. He suggests (...) that the opposition between the two views is less straightforward than has usually been thought. He proposes, in addition, that each of them has valuable roles to play in major epistemological issues, even though the internalist approach is more fundamental in an important way. (shrink)
In my book In Defense of Pure Reason, I offer an extended defense of the idea of a priori justification and, more specifically, of a rationalist conception of such justification: one according to which rational insight or intuition provides genuine justification for claims that need not be merely definitional or tautological in character. In the relatively brief space available to me on the present occasion, I want to present and defend, necessarily in rather broad strokes, four of the most central (...) claims that are discussed at much greater length in that book. I will say the most about the first of these theses, somewhat less about the second and third, and only a very little about the fourth. (shrink)
In this paper, I will discuss three arguments which have been advanced by three of the most important recent analytic philosophers: Willard Van Orman Quine, Hilary Putnam, and Michael Dummett. Each argument is central to the views of the philosopher in question, and each leads to sweeping and, to my mind, highly implausible conclusions concerning the content of our thoughts about the world. The philosophers in question claim, of course, that these implications should be accepted, but few others have been (...) willing to follow them in this. At the same time, however, there has been no very widespread agreement on where and how the arguments go wrong. My view is that they are best viewed as reductions to absurdity of their premises and of one underlying premise in particular.  But just which premise is at fault is not, perhaps, immediately obvious. I will have more to say about that after we have had an initial look at the arguments. (shrink)
This book is concerned with the alleged capacity of the human mind to arrive at beliefs and knowledge about the world on the basis of pure reason without any dependence on sensory experience. Most recent philosophers reject the view and argue that all substantive knowledge must be sensory in origin. Laurence BonJour provocatively reopens the debate by presenting the most comprehensive exposition and defence of the rationalist view that a priori insight is a genuine basis for knowledge. This important book (...) will be at the centre of debate about the theory of knowledge for many years to come. (shrink)