Explain ‘the Regress Argument' for Foundationalism. Why Does Dancy Hold That This Argument Is Fallacious?

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  • Topic: Epistemology, Foundationalism, Coherentism
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  • Published : December 14, 2005
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Explain ‘The Regress Argument' for Foundationalism. Why does Dancy hold that this argument is fallacious? Is he right? One of the primary questions concerning epistemology is that of how we justify true beliefs? The regress argument is a problem imbedded in epistemology and, in general, a problem in any given situation where a statement or belief has to be justified. The Regress argument starts with the idea that some beliefs are justified by reference to others. "All agree that some of our beliefs are justified by their relation to other beliefs" For example, if I already believe that Socrates is a person, and that all people are mortal, I might infer from these beliefs the new belief that Socrates is mortal. If my two existing beliefs were themselves justified, then via this inference I've acquired a new, different, justified belief, or an inferentially justified belief. Dancy uses an example of when someone strikes a match. "My belief that striking the match will light it is justified inferentially". The regress argument simply claims that not all of my beliefs can be inferentially justified beliefs. As well as beliefs which are justified in this way there must be others, which are justified non-inferentially. "Inference is basically a matter of moving from premise to conclusion along an acceptable path". Conclusions can only be justified if they follow from justified premises, for "If the premises are unjustified, there will be no justification for the conclusion". For instance, if a conclusion say C is justified, that must be because it follows from some premise or set of premises. Say premise B, but if C is to be justified by premise B, then premise B must itself be justified by something else. For it's obviously not enough to believe that C is justified by premise B if there is no justification for the belief in premise B. Therefore, there must be another premise say premise A which justifies our belief in premise B, But if my belief in premise B is...
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