PHIL 350A:  Study Questions for Week #3

 

1.  Explain the following distinctions (you may use examples): 

(a) basic/non-basic beliefs.

(b) classical foundationalism/moderate foundationalism/coherentism.  (Note that Pojman uses "modest foundationalism" and "moderate foundationalism" interchangeably.  In your answer, use the distinction between inferential and non-inferential justification in your explanation of the distinctions.)

(c) self-evidenct/evident to the senses

(d) linear/non-linear justification

(e) conceptual/non-conceptual content

 

2.  What is the (epistemic) regress problem?  What are the four alternative responses to the regress problem?  What is the assumption that is presupposed by the statement of the regress problem but denied by the holistic coherentist? 

 

3.  Talbott has identified two kinds of relations between beliefs, causal and logical.  Explain them.  To be foundational, a belief must be both causally and logically basic.  Explain this with an example?  Could a belief be causally but not logically basic?  Explain.  Could a belief be logically but not causally basic?  Explain. 

 

4.  What is Pojman's Anti-Foundationalist Argument?  What is the Given?  How does it provide a response to the Anti-Foundationalist Argument?  Why have some philosophers (e.g., Sellars) claimed that the Given a myth?  [In class we will call this the Content Problem for empirical foundationalism.]  What is your opinion:  Is it a myth?  Explain.  If the Given is a myth, is any kind of Foundationalism acceptable?  Explain. 

 

5.  How does the holistic coherentist avoid the charge that s/he endorses circular reasoning?  What makes systems of beliefs holistically coherent?

 

6.  Pojman classifies BonJour as a coherentist, on the basis of his 1985 book, The Structure of Empirical Knowledge?  Why did BonJour advocate coherentism in 1985?  Why is BonJour no longer a coherentist? 

 

7.  What is the Alternative Systems Objection to coherentism?  What is the Input Objection to coherentism?  What is the problem that underlies both of these objections?  

 

8.  What is fallibilism about knowledge?

 

9.  Consider the Doxastic Thesis:  that only a belief can justify another belief.  Why have many philosophers accepted the Doxastic Thesis?  [Hint:  Why have the rejected the Given as a myth?]

 

10.  On page 128, Pojman claims that both coherentists and moderate foundationalists agree on the Doxastic Thesis.  This is a mistake.  Carefully check his seven conditions for moderate/modest foundationalism on pp. 125-126.  Do they imply the Doxastic Thesis?  (Pojman implicitly corrects his mistake on page 130 when he says that Pollock's view, which denies the Doxastic Thesis, is a second form of moderate foundationalism.

 

11.  Ultimately, Bonjour defends a moderate foundationalism according to which experience has non-conceptual content.  What does he mean by non-conceptual content?  According to BonJour, how does an experience with non-conceptual content justify a belief about it?

 

12.  What kind of answer can be given to the question:  What is the justification for accepting moderate foundationalism (or any other epistemological view)?