Arguments Against Foundationalism

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Examination of Foundationalism: As I have mentioned in the introduction that foundationalism is a so influential theory of justification that all other competing theories of justification are described in terms of their relation to or divergence from it. That feature makes it a common target of all other relevant theories. Thus, a number of criticisms are made against it. In this paper I will examine five of them which I take to be the most common criticisms against foundationalism. These are: 1. Problems of infallibility 2. The myth of the given 3. Basic beliefs make no sense 4. Basic beliefs cannot support useful belief-set 5. Basic beliefs are arbitrary 1. Problems of infallibility: Classical foundationalism requires that justified basic…show more content…
The myth of the given: This is an influential criticism made by Wilfrid Sellars. It is applicable to all types of foundationalism since the idea of the basic belief depends on the idea of the given. The argument runs in this way: the idea of the given in traditional epistemology contains irreconcilable tensions. Foundationalists want to make sure that basic beliefs do not involve any other beliefs. That is why they want the given to be untainted by the application of concepts. But their theories are designed in a way that the non-basic beliefs can be inferred from the given in order to be justified. That is the way by which foundationalists avoid regress problem. But to make sense of inference from the given, we must ensure that what is given to us has a truth value. But anything that has a truth value involves the application of concepts. “But to apply a concept is to make a judgment about class membership, and to make a judgment about a class membership always involves relating the thing about which the judgment is made to other paradigm members of the class. These judgments of relevant similarity will minimally involve beliefs about the past and thus be inferential in character.” So, the idea of basic beliefs is…show more content…
Minimal foundationalism claims that the basic beliefs are non-doxastically justified. And to keep them non-doxastic, minimal foundationalists must ensure that basic beliefs do not involve the application of concepts because if they involve application of concepts, they will be tainted by other beliefs and, consequently, will turn into doxastically justified beliefs. Thus, they will lose the status of basic beliefs. I believe that this criticism is disastrous for all types of foundationalism. It ultimately reveals the fact that foundationalism is unable to bridge the gap between the object-belief and the very object of belief. So, it needs to allow the application of concept which in turn not only create a new infinite conceptual-regress, but also destroy the very foundation of foundationalism by eliminating the idea of basic belief. Of course, a foundationalist may urge that just as one needs to end epistemic-regress by endorsing basic beliefs which do not require other beliefs for their justification, in the same way one needs to end conceptual-regress by endorsing the idea that the truth value of the given can be known without making any judgment that involve the application of concepts. But this reply may not satisfy the critics because the context of the epistemic-regress
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