Fallible reasons on behalf of fallibilism

Synthese 198 (5):3979-3998 (2017)
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In this paper I introduce a problem regarding whether there are good reasons to accept fallibilism about justified belief. According to this species of fallibilism, one can be justified in believing a proposition on the basis of reasons that do not justify certainty. Call such reasons “fallible reasons.” The problem is this: can one justifiably believe fallibilism on the basis of fallible reasons? To do so would seem to beg the question. If you are undecided as to whether you should accept anything on the basis of fallible reasons, then you should also be undecided as to whether you should accept fallibilism on the basis of such reasons. In this paper I consider several possible responses to this problem. I argue that the most appealing is to grant that good but fallible reasons on behalf of fallibilism are possible, and that this shows that one’s basic rational commitments cannot be defended in a non-circular fashion.



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David J. Alexander
Iowa State University

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References found in this work

Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism.Peter K. Unger - 1975 - Oxford [Eng.]: Oxford University Press.
Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits.Bertrand Russell - 2009 - New York, USA: Simon and Schuster.
In Defense of Pure Reason.Laurence BonJour - 1998 - Cambridge University Press.

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