Foundationalism, circular justification, and the levels gambit

Synthese 68 (2):205 - 212 (1986)
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In Foundationalism, Coherentism, and the Levels Gambit, David Shatz argued that foundationalists must countenance a circular mediate justification of perceptual beliefs which the foundationalist holds are already immediately justified. Because the circularity of coherentist accounts of the justification of beliefs is a major basis of foundationalist criticism of coherentism, Shatz's claim is a serious challenge to foundationalism. In this paper, using a moderate foundationalism with a reliabilist conception of justification, I give an account of immediately and mediately justified beliefs which shows that such a foundationalism need not accept such a circular justification (and in crucial cases cannot do so) and that Shatz's claim is therefore incorrect.



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