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foundationalism

william p. alston


Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


Extract

initial account Foundationalism is a view concerning the structure of the system of justified belief possessed by a given individual. Such a system is divided into ‘foundation’ and ‘superstructure’, so related that beliefs in the latter depend on the former for their justification but not vice versa. However, the view is sometimes stated in terms of the structure of knowledge rather than of justified belief. If knowledge is true justified belief (plus, perhaps, some further condition), one may think of knowledge as exhibiting a foundationalist structure by virtue of the justified belief it involves. In any event, I will construe the doctrine as concerned primarily with justified belief, though I will feel free to speak of knowledge instead from time to time. The first step towards a more explicit statement of the position is to distinguish between mediate (indirect) and immediate (direct) justification of belief. To say that a belief is mediately justified is to say that it is justified by some appropriate relation to other justified beliefs, e.g., by being inferred from other justified beliefs that provide adequate support for it, or, alternatively, by being based on adequate reasons. Thus if my reason for supposing that you are depressed is that you look listless, speak in an unaccustomedly flat tone of voice, exhibit no interest in things you are usually interested ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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