PHIL 110 Paper 1
Option 2: Foundationalist response to infinite regress argument for scepticism
Sceptical arguments are designed to show that we lack any knowledge whatsoever. Such arguments have informed views about what knowledge is and whether we have any in the first place, by establishing the conditions that any acceptable knowledge claim must meet. This essay addresses the idea of radical, or global scepticism: that every statement is doubtful, and that information and theories are never certain or justified. Thus, claims for truth and knowledge about the real world depends on the defeat of scepticism. This essay discusses a particular argument for global scepticism – the infinite regress argument. In defence of human’s …show more content…
It implies that most of our beliefs are false, which allows for the generalisation that none of our beliefs are good enough to count as knowledge. One example of a sceptical argument is the infinite regress argument. This argument starts with the premise that whenever we claim to know or justifiably believe something, we imply that we are in possession of good supporting or justifying reasons for our claim. For any claim to knowledge, it may legitimately be asked: How do you know? One of the most natural way to justify a belief is by producing a justificatory argument: belief A is justified by citing some other belief B, from which A is inferable. This question can then be iterated – the answer to the original question will be subject to the further question: how do you know that. Thus, any explanation or chain of justifying reasons either stops, or does not. If our explanations do not come to an end, they carry on forever, either in the form of an infinite regress, or in that of a circle. Alternatively, if our explanations come to an end, then they end either with a belief that is not justified, or with a belief that is justified, but not inferentially.
A statement is certain or justified if it is proved, but proof is impossible because it is question-begging – any criterion for the validity of a proof requires a different proof, since self-justification is too easy and always possible. A justification procedure …show more content…
Specifically, it attempts an account of explanations that end with “non-inferentially justified belief”, by showing the existence of beliefs with a certain property that makes it appropriately basic and indefeasible. This strategy consists of relating claims to know to a foundation, which is asserted to be true, which can be correctly applied to yield knowledge. In this manner, foundationalism aims to provide an alternative to the regression problem – that the chain of reasons can come to rest on something which is immediately self-evident and is thus capable of stopping the regress. Claims to know are typically justified by virtue of such a first principle, or set of principles, known to be true, from which the remainder of the theory strictly follows. Since foundationalism provides reasoning on the basis of one or more indefeasible principles, which are regarded as necessary and necessarily true, knowledge derived from such principles should be beyond doubt of any kind, defeating even the most radical forms of scepticism.
A strong example of a foundationalist claim would be Descarte’s claim to have knowledge of his own existence. According to Descartes, since the cogito, or self-consciousness, cannot be doubted without being affirmed, it hence cannot be false, so it must, therefore, be true. This is because it is impossible for one to imagine themselves as not existing: even if one rejects all his views, he is left