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Reasons For Thinking That Either Foundationalism Or Coherentism About Justification Must Be True?

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Are there any compelling reasons for thinking that either foundationalism or coherentism about justification must be true? In a discussion of foundationalism and coherentism, the pyramid and raft are metaphors frequently used to help explain how these two theories respectively function. Foundationalism implies that any body of knowledge can be divided up into parts that relate or constitute some understanding of this knowledge. The foundationalists’ pyramid represents such a body; the axioms (self-evident truths) of the system all sit at the bottom of the structure and each truth throughout the structure can be derived from the truths below it, right down to the axioms. Every node of the pyramid is supported structurally by the multiple…show more content…
In subjects such as maths and pure logic, the foundationalist theory is both compelling and reasonable. There are several issues apparent with foundationalism when applied to other areas of knowledge or belief, however. One of the main disadvantages is the difficulty of obtaining base-truths for many systems of knowledge. Take science as an example. Nailing down axioms to a system that we are constantly discovering more about is incredibly difficult. Newtonian mechanics is a system well defined by axioms, and was considered irrefutable for hundreds of years until the advent of special relativity in the early 20th century. We now know Newton’s system no longer works, but had no reason to believe there were any issues with it until then. There are regions of science that are very likely comparable to this today, and we will prove ourselves wrong in the future. How can one construct a pyramid of such a chaotic system? Even a system such as mathematics, which has collected axioms over the centuries of its study and so is a very well defined pyramid, has its flaws. Kurt Godel proved in 1930 that the system of axioms in arithmetic yields contradictions and so cannot be defined through them. Sosa (1980) challenges the problem of the base-truths of foundationalism by questioning the ability for anything we
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