Evidential/Non-Evidential Theory

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Epistemology Midterm

A question that epistemologist ask is what sort of factors make beliefs justified. That is to say, could there possibly be a set of basic justified beliefs that rationally define all of your other beliefs? Or perhaps there are no foundational beliefs, but rather an infinite amount of beliefs that explain the ones that came before it. Are these beliefs based on evidence or perhaps something more? Epistemology attempts to answer these such questions.

Beliefs are developed from the numerous propositions that we are exposed be the world each day. These beliefs are held by you to be true. When you are confronted with a proposed statement you are presented with a variety of different alternatives. These alternatives can make you believe the proposed claim or convince you to disbelieve them. When this occurs, you construct a justified belief. These beliefs do not necessarily have to be true for other people, are not absolute (they can range from having an absolute conviction, suspension of judgment, or rejecting a proposition), and can be altered at anytime. What makes justified beliefs justified? According to the evidentialists, it is the possession of evidence for a belief. One theory, the infinite regress argument, proposes that other beliefs or reasons are such evidence.

The infinite regress is one argument that philosophers employ when explaining justifications and knowledge in an evidential manner. Suppose you consider the justified belief, P, you might begin to wonder as to where P's justification originally stems from. If P is not a basic justified belief , but rather a nonbasic justified belief (meaning that these belief do not need support of other beliefs in order to be deemed true), it would have...

... middle of paper ... is “made-up” to achieve the desired results. How is one supposed to know which process to use in assessing a belief for reliability and justification if there might be an infinite amount of different processes to choose from? This is a major issue for reliabilists and there is no solution to this problem.

Reliabilism appears to be a logical reasoning to why your beliefs might be justified, but without a proper, clear-cut, general theory, how is one supposed to know what processes to employ? And if you have beliefs that fit well with each other and make you to believe you beliefs are justified, then they are in fact justified? This is clearly not the case with Brain, who believes that he is experiencing, when in fact he is merely a brain in a vat. This theory seems to have some fundamental flaws to it, that need to be addressed before I can fully accept it.
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