PHL232H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Infinitism, Foundationalism, Coherentism

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Published on 2 Feb 2015
PHL232 (2) Traditional Responses to Scepticism (I)
Knowledge as Justified True Belief & Foundationalism vs. Coherentism a/b
Readings: Fumerton, “Foundationalist vs. Coherentism a/b Justification (S.1 - 3)
Knowledge as Justified True Belief
Justification—good reason to believe that a proposition is true
oInferential justification—only way to be justified in believing that p is to
be in possession of argument whose conclusion is p
Epistemic internalism—view that a beliefs justification doesn’t require that it
meets some condition external to a subject’s perspective
oAll relevant conditions for justification are internal to subject’s perspective
Justified true belief (JTB)view that to know that given proposition is true, one must
believe the relevant true proposition + also have justification for doing so
Traditional attempt to answer the sceptic
AKA ‘tripartite analysis’
AKA epistemic internalism
Standard account of knowledge
Hypothesis: knowing p involves having justified true belief that p
Every case of knowledge  case of justified true belief
oJTB necessary + sufficient for knowledge
Form of argument: in order for S to count as knowing p, its necessary + sufficient
that: S believes that p
S’s belief that p is true
S’s belief that p is justified
Suffered setback w/ discovery of the Gettier problems (situations where above
conditions seemingly met, but where many philosophers disagree that anything is
Foundationalism (‘The Pyramid’) —view a/b proper structure of one’s
knowledge/justified beliefs
Some beliefs known/justifiably believed only b/c some other beliefs
known/justifiably believed
Any theory in epistemology that holds that beliefs are justified based on basic
Theory of appropriate support (inferential justification)
Raises question a/b proper epistemic structure of our beliefs
Focuses on structural conditions for justification
oHow should one’s belief be structure so as to be justified?
Belief justified for a person IFF the person is right to believe it
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Argue against infinitism (can never possess infinite string of non-repeating
Against coherentism: circular reasoning never justifies anything
Main rival of coherentism
oCoherentism—body of knowledge, not requiring a secure foundation can
be established by interlocking strength of its components
Ex. Like puzzle solved w/o prior certainty that each small region
was solved correctly
Characterized by:
o(1) Some beliefs are basic
Whether ^ beliefs justified doesn’t depend on whether any other
belief is justified
Maintain that there are some ultimate premises that provide good
reasons for other claims, but themselves don’t require additional
Ultimate premises—proper stopping points in regress argument
Basic beliefs—self-justifying or evidence
Non-inferential justification
Doesn’t require justification b/c it is a different kind of
belief than non-foundational ones
Must be infallible if the are to justify non-basic beliefs
Only deductive reasoning can be used to transfer
justification from one belief to another
Mental states + immediate experience = good candidates
for basic beliefs b/c beliefs a/b these don’t need further
support to be justified
o(2) A belief is justified IFF it’s a basic belief or is derived from one or
more basic beliefs by suitable means
Internalist foundationalism—requires that believer’s justification for belief
must be accessible to them for it to be justified
oHold that basic beliefs justified by mental events/states (experiences) that
don’t constitute beliefs
Externalist foundationalism—maintain that it is unnecessary for means of
justification of belief to be accessible to believer
Principle of Inferential Justification (PIJ)
oProblem: if all justifications inferential, no one would be justified in
believing anything whatsoever
oRelies on unacceptability of vicious epistemic regress
Problem w/o concept of non-inferential justification
oConcept of non-inferential justification used to recursively define
inferential justification
Ex. Conceptual regress argument puts forth thesis that inferential
justification stands to non-inferential justification as instrumental
goodness stands to intrinsic goodness
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