Evaluate One Philosophical Theory That Tries to Deal with Agrippa’s Trilemma.

Topics: Epistemology, Belief, Foundationalism Pages: 3 (1222 words) Published: April 22, 2013
Evaluate one philosophical theory that tries to deal with Agrippa’s Trilemma. Agrippa’s Trilemma gives us the three possibilities when trying to justify a belief. The first is that our beliefs are unsupported; the second that there is an infinite chain of justification; the third being that there is a circular chain of justification. One theory that tries to deal with this is foundationalism, which suggests the first option of Agrippa’s Trilemma is true. Throughout this essay I will argue why although one of the more popular theories, it still has its flaws. Foundationalism suggests that the first option of Agrippa’s Trilemma- that there are beliefs that can be unsupported- is correct for certain ‘foundational’ beliefs. The epistemic regress argument, as explained well Richard Fumerton, shows how this is likely to be the case. It’s best to explain this with an example. Let’s say, a man comes up to you and tells you it is going to rain tomorrow, and as evidence he says ‘because the winds are going to change direction’. You ask him why he thinks this, and he says he just ‘has a feeling’. Naturally you take this as nonsense, a poor justification for his claim, and don’t believe him. This shows us then that to be justified in believing something, P, because of E, you must be justified in believing E. However, let’s say his justification for believing E- that the winds were changing bringing rain- was that he saw it in a gypsy’s crystal ball. Though he may think this is a good justification because he believes in that sort of thing, you are sceptical and again dismiss his claim. This brings us to expand our first principle to what is known as the Principle of Inferential Justification (PIJ): ‘To have justification for believing P on the basis of E one must not only have (1) justification for believing E, but (2) justification for believing that E makes probable P.’ (Fumerton, 2002) From the PIJ we can easily show how the epistemic regress argument...
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