Evidential/Non-Evidential Theory Essay

1955 Words 8 Pages
Epistemology Midterm A question that epistemologist ask is what sort of factors make beliefs justified. That is to say, could there possibly be a set of basic justified beliefs that rationally define all of your other beliefs? Or perhaps there are no foundational beliefs, but rather an infinite amount of beliefs that explain the ones that came before it. Are these beliefs based on evidence or perhaps something more? Epistemology attempts to answer these such questions. Beliefs are developed from the numerous propositions that we are exposed be the world each day. These beliefs are held by you to be true. When you are confronted with a proposed statement you are presented with a variety of different alternatives. These alternatives can …show more content…
If S is able to justify itself, the chain of justifications would come to an end with S. This would provide us with a “proof” for believing in P. But if S is not basic, we need a further belief, R. If belief R is not basic, we need another belief, and so forth. This series of endless beliefs does not provide one with sufficient reason for believing in the initial belief, P. There is an issue with the infinite regress, however. There appears to be no rational explanation as to why one might hold a belief and have justification for it. If I were to believe in P, and P is based on other beliefs that are not basic, it appears that these beliefs are no better than believing in beliefs that have no reasons to them at all. It seems that you do need reasons for the reasons in order for you to hold any justified beliefs. You cannot simply believe in propositions without knowing why you believe in them! In response to the insufficient explanation that the infinite regress provides, one ancient philosopher, Aristotle, proposed the idea of foundationalism. Aristotle believed that knowledge should be firmly structured and begin from a concrete starting point. He proposed the notion of “first principles.” These principles are: always true, do not need any further explanation, and are explanatory. Therefore, in order for one to have a justified belief it must have its origins lead to a foundation. If the belief cannot be proved by a foundation, then having this belief is