Epistemic Priority and Coherence
There are two related topics considered in this paper. The first topic concerns the status of basic beliefs and the thesis of epistemic priority, and the second concerns the justification of observational and introspective beliefs within a coherentist approach to justification. These issues are related since the proponents of coherence theories typically deny the thesis of epistemic priority and the existence of basic beliefs, and since those sympathetic to the thesis typically maintain that our introspective beliefs are among the clearest examples of basic beliefs. In the first section I shall consider an argument by Laurence Bonjour against the existence of basic beliefs and the thesis of epistemic priority. Though I believe that the argument is unsuccessful, it provides an important challenge to foundationalist views of justification. Still, this argument presupposes a certain view of what is required for justification, and in the second section I argue that this view of justification presents problems for BonJour’s positive account of the warrant of observational and introspective beliefs. In addition to BonJour’s views, I shall also consider a brief proposal by Roderick Firth in response to the objection that coherence theories cut off justification from the world.
KeywordsJustify Belief Basic Belief Epistemic Justification Coherence Theory Doxastic State
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