There are many things that could be wrong with foundationalism. For example, some have claimed that a so-called basic belief cannot be both 1) a reason for non-basic beliefs and 2) such that it cannot be provided with at least prima facie justification. If something is a reason, they say, then that something has to be a proposition and if it is a proposition, then it is the kind of thing that requires a reason in order to be even prima (...) facie justified. Another reason that some give for rejecting normative foundationalism is that it leads directly to skepticism. There is no way, they claim, to move from so-called basic propositions to “external world” propositions by employing normatively acceptable principles of reasoning. Still others have thought that the invention of a nonreasoned reason was as ad hoc as the invention of an unmoved mover. (shrink)
As the Pyrrhonians made clear, reasons that adequately justify beliefs can have only three possible structures: foundationalism, coherentism, and infinitism. Infinitism—the view that adequate reasons for our beliefs are infinite and non-repeating—has never been developed carefully, much less advocated. In this paper, I will argue that only infinitism can satisfy two intuitively plausible constraints on good reasoning: the avoidance of circular reasoning and the avoidance of arbitrariness. Further, I will argue that infinitism requires serious, but salutary, revisions in our evaluation (...) of the power of reasoning. Thus, reasoning can not provide a basis for assenting to a proposition—where to assent to a proposition, p, means to believe that we know that p. A non-dogmatic form of provisional justification will be sketched. Finally, the best objections to infinitism, including those posed by the Pyrrhonians, will be shown (at least provisionally!) to be inadequate. (shrink)
O propósito deste artigo é mostrar como podem ser desenvolvidas explicações robustas de justificação e de certeza no interior do infinitismo. Primeiro, eu explico como a concepção infinitista de justificação epistêmica difere das concepções fundacionista e coerentista. Em segundo lugar, explico como o infinitista pode oferecer uma solução ao problema do regresso epistêmico. Em terceiro lugar, explico como o infinitismo, per se, é compatível com as teorias daqueles que sustentam 1) que o conhecimento requer certeza e que uma tal forma (...) superior de conhecimento é possível, bem como com as daqueles que rejeitam algum ou ambos os conjuntos em 1). Em outras palavras, o infinitismo nem endossa, nem rejeita o ceticismo, tomando-se essa tese como sendo aquela segundo a qual nós não possuímos conhecimento naquelas situações que nos parecem cognoscíveis. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Certeza. Coerentismo. Fundacionismo. Infinitismo. Pirronismo. Regresso epistêmico. ABSTRACT The purpose of the paper is to show how robust accounts of justification and certainty can be developed within infinitism. First, I explain how the infinitist conception of epistemic justification differs from both the foundationalist and coherentist conceptions. Second, I explain how the infinitist can provide a solution to the epistemic regress problem. Third, I explain how infinitism, per se, is compatible with both the views of those who hold 1) that knowledge requires certainty and that such high-grade knowledge is possible as well as those who deny either or both conjuncts in 1). In other words, infinitism neither endorses nor rejects skepticism, taking that view to mean that we do not have knowledge in those areas commonly thought to be within our ken. KEY WORDS – Certainty. Coherentism. Foundationalism. Infinitism. Pyrrhonism. Epistemic regress. (shrink)
“Real knowledge,” as I use the term, is the most highly prized form of true belief sought by an epistemic agent. This paper argues that defeasible infinitism provides a good way to characterize real knowledge and it shows how real knowledge can arise from fallible justification. Then, I argue that there are two ways of interpreting Ernest Sosa's account of real knowledge as belief that is aptly formed and capable of being fully defended. On the one hand, if beliefs are (...) aptly formed only if they have a specific causal etiology, namely that they are efficiently caused fully or partially by virtuous characteristics of the epistemic agent, then Sosa's account falls prey to what I call the problem of the Hazard of Empirical Disconfirmation. The HED problem applies to all forms of causal accounts of real knowledge and is simply that as we gain more empirical knowledge about the causal origins of our true beliefs that are the most highly prized we will discover that they do not always satisfy the required efficient causal constraints. Bluntly put, having sufficiently good reasons for our beliefs might not require that the beliefs have the requisite efficient causal etiology. On the other hand, there is a way of interpreting Sosa's views that does not include an efficient causal prerequisite. That interpretation makes Sosa's account of real knowledge almost identical to defeasible infinitism but expressed in an alternate vocabulary. Such a view is not subject to the HED problem and it can solve the deep problem in epistemology, namely how to get epistemically certain knowledge from fallible justification. (shrink)
As the Pyrrhonians made clear, reasons that adequately justify beliefs can have only three possible structures: foundationalism, coherentism, and infinitism. Infinitism—the view that adequate reasons for our beliefs are infinite and non-repeating—has never been developed carefully, much less advocated. In this paper, I will argue that only infinitism can satisfy two intuitively plausible constraints on good reasoning: the avoidance of circular reasoning and the avoidance of arbitrariness. Further, I will argue that infinitism requires serious, but salutary, revisions in our evaluation (...) of the power of reasoning. Thus, reasoning can not provide a basis for assenting to a proposition—where to assent to a proposition, p, means to believe that we know that p. A non-dogmatic form of provisional justification will be sketched. Finally, the best objections to infinitism, including those posed by the Pyrrhonians, will be shown to be inadequate. (shrink)
Infinitism in Epistemology. This article provides an overview of infinitism in epistemology. Infinitism is a family of views in epistemology about the structure of knowledge and epistemic justification. It contrasts naturally with coherentism and foundationalism. All three views agree that knowledge or justification requires an appropriately structured chain of reasons. What form may such a […].
This chapter provides grounds for thinking that it is the quality of the reasons for the propositional content of our belief-states with true propositional contents, rather than the etiology of those belief-states, that determines whether the belief-state qualifies as knowledge. Normative epistemology rather than naturalized epistemology holds the key to understanding knowledge. This chapter delineates some important features of epistemic luck. It explores the etiology view and presents reasons for concluding that it cannot adequately account for epistemic luck. The chapter (...) then explores the reasons view and shows how it can account for some of the cases that are troublesome for the etiology view. There are many well-discussed and widely accepted counterexamples in the literature for each of the etiology views, with the exception of the virtue-views because those views are still relatively new. (shrink)
Philosophers have sought to characterize a type of knowledge — what I call real knowledge — which is significantly different from the ordinary concept of knowledge. The concept of knowledge as true, justified belief — what I call knowledge simpliciter — failed to depict the sought after real knowledge because the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions of knowledge simpliciter can be felicitously but accidentally fulfilled. Real knowledge is knowledge simpliciter plus a set of requirements which guarantee that the truth, belief (...) and justification conditions are not accidentally conjoined. Two of those requirements have received considerable attention in recent literature by the defeasibility theorists and the causal theorists. I argue that a third requirement is needed to block the merely coincidental cosatisfaction of the belief and justification conditions and to capture our intuitions about the epistemic agent who possesses real knowledge. That condition ascribes a disposition to the real knower to believe all and only justified propositions in virtue of his/her belief that the propositions are justified. Two consequences of that requirement are discussed: (1) if S really knows that p, then S knows simpliciter that S knows simpliciter that p and (2) the iterative feature of real knowledge mentioned in (1) provides a basis for the rejection of a particularly pernicious form of scepticism. (shrink)
The 'Gettier Problem' has been central to epistemology since 1963, when Edmund Gettier presented a powerful challenge to the standard analysis of knowledge. Now twenty-six leading philosophers examine the issues that arise from Gettier's challenge, setting the agenda for future work on the central problem of epistemology.
This volume presents new work on infinitism, the view that there are no foundational reasons for beliefs--an ancient view in epistemology, now growing again in popularity. Leading epistemologists illuminate its strengths and weaknesses, and address questions new and old about justification, reasoning, responsibility, disagreement, and trust.
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