Theories of knowledge

Topics: Epistemology, Foundationalism, Truth Pages: 8 (2653 words) Published: February 24, 2014

Theories of Justification

Identify and carefully examine two theories of justification.

“The concern with understanding human knowledge has been a central philosophical one.”1“Like Rene Descartes, we have all ask ourselves at one time or another couldn't everything I seem to see, hear, etc. Be illusory? Might I’ll in fact be dreaming all this? If so what do I really know of the outside world?"2 Knowledge is a vague concept according to Bertrand Russell. This is issue of what is knowledge, how do we know and how to classify what we think we know as knowledge. In order to help solve this problem knowledge have been classified into groups by philosophers. These are procedural knowledge, personal knowledge, and propositional knowledge. Procedural knowledge is seen as ability or knowledge how, while personal is knowledge by acquaintance and prepositional is factual knowledge. Traditional epistemologists concentrate entirely on propositional knowledge, this is knowledge fact, and several of these traditional theories of knowledge are split in two groups, empiricist and rationalist. These philosophers believed their source of knowledge for the former is through experience and the latter through reason. These theories cannot be seen as absolute for there can be found definite flaws in their projection. For this cannot be the only way of knowing if one is to consider the existence of intuition knowledge. However, aim of this essay is not to examine the right or wrong of these epistemological theories, but to evaluate how epistemological theories justify why philosophers’ beliefs and statements are to be classified as knowledge. This essay will be concentrating on the method of how we know that we know and justification of this for it to be truth and knowledge. The theories of justification are the direction of this essay in order to understand to some extent the theories that are used to justify statements and beliefs in western philosophy.

There are two main justification theories that are very popular among traditional and contemporary western philosophy. These are coherence theory of justification or coherentism and foundationalism. Both theories are seen as opposing theories of one another. By examining both theories one will get a little insight to western philosophy concept of justification of how one knows. The first theory we will be looking at is the one of foundationalism. Foundationalism is any theory in epistemology that holds the view that beliefs are justified or known based on basic beliefs. The basic beliefs are said to be self justifying or self evident, that is, they enjoy a non-inferential warrant (or justification), i.e., they are not justified by other beliefs. 3 Foundationalism or epistemic foundationalism of justification theory concentrates on the view that some beliefs are known or justified only because some main beliefs are already known or justifiably.  Typically , foundationalists have held the view that these basic beliefs are either justified by  the phenomenal events or states, such as experiences, and therefore do not constitute beliefs such  non-doxastic mental states, and they are simply not the type of statements or things that can be or rather need justification . Many questions arise from the concept of basic beliefs such as: How are basic beliefs justified and how can we justify other beliefs on basic beliefs? These questions will be dealt with later on in the essay.  Famous philosopher Rene Desecrates could be placed in the category of foundationalism with his belief of epistemology. He argued that we start with the obvious certainty which is clear and consist of distinct ideas. Secondly we are able to justify other ideas by deducing them from the obvious and thirdly both together gives us most of our common sense ideas. Descartes common view is that the foundational propositions must be results of subjective psychological...
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