Classical Foundationalism and Bergmann’s Dilemma for Internalism

Journal of Philosophical Research 36:391-410 (2011)
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Abstract

In Justification without Awareness (2006), Michael Bergmann presents a dilemma for internalism from which he claims there is “no escape”: The awareness allegedly required for justification is either strong awareness, which involves conceiving of some justification-contributor as relevant to the truth of a belief, or weak awareness, which does not. Bergmann argues that the former leads to an infinite regress of justifiers, while the latter conflicts with the “clearest and most compelling” motivation for endorsing internalism, namely, that for a belief to be justified its truth must not be an accident from the subject’s perspective. Bergmann’s dilemma might initially seem to have the force of a knock-down argument against the classical foundationalist accounts he considers, if not against all forms of internalism. I argue, however, that the weak-awareness horn of Bergmann’s dilemma is unsuccessful. Classical foundationalists can hold on to the main motivation for internalism and avoid a vicious regress of justifiers.

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Ali Hasan
University of Iowa

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