The Epistemic Basing Relation

Dissertation, The Ohio State University (1996)
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The epistemic basing relation is the relation occurring between a belief and a reason when the reason is the reason for which the belief is held. It marks the distinction between a belief's being justifiable for a person, and the person's being justified in holding the belief. As such, it is an essential component of any complete theory of epistemic justification. ;I survey and evaluate all theories of the basing relation that I am aware of published between 1965 and 1995. These include causal theories, , theories involving pseudo-overdetermination relations , theories involving what a person would appeal to in defense of her beliefs , and doxastic theories , involving an appeal to meta-beliefs. My discussion of these theories includes a detailed analysis of variations of Lehrer's case of the gypsy lawyer which, I show, can be reformulated to pose a decisive objection to causal theories, if not causal analyses, of the basing relation. ;Rejecting all published theories, I present a new kind of causal analysis of the basing relation which I call the causal-doxastic theory. This theory states that a belief is based on a reason if the reason bears an appropriate causal relation to the belief, or, it does not bear such a causal relation, but an appropriate meta-belief is present. A causal analysis of which meta-beliefs are appropriate is given, so as to count as inappropriate rationalizations, mistaken meta-beliefs, etc. In developing the causal-doxastic theory, I present a solution to the problem of deviant causal chains, a discussion of the causal sustaining of beliefs, an account of rejecting reasons, and a partial analysis of showing that one is justified. I then discuss implications of my theory regarding foundationalism, inference, basic and non-basic belief, holistic and linear coherentism, process reliabilism, internalism and externalism, and various closure principles



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