Benign Infinity

In Cherie Braden, Rodrigo Borges & Branden Fitelson (eds.), Themes From Klein. Springer Verlag. pp. 235-57 (2019)
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According to infinitism, all justification comes from an infinite series of reasons. Peter Klein defends infinitism as the correct solution to the regress problem by rejecting two alternative solutions: foundationalism and coherentism. I focus on Klein's argument against foundationalism, which relies on the premise that there is no justification without meta-justification. This premise is incompatible with dogmatic foundationalism as defended by Michael Huemer and Time Pryor. It does not, however, conflict with non-dogmatic foundationalism. Whereas dogmatic foundationalism rejects the need for any form of meta-justification, non-dogmatic foundationalism merely rejects Laurence BonJour's claim that meta-justification must come from beliefs. Unlike its dogmatic counterpart, non-dogmatic foundationalism can allow for basic beliefs to receive meta-justification from non-doxastic sources such as experiences and memories. Construed thus, non-dogmatic foundationalism is compatible with Klein's principle that there is no justification without meta-justification. I conclude that Klein's rejection of foundationalism. fails. Nevertheless, I agree with Klein that when in response to a skeptical challenge we engage in the activity of defending our beliefs, the number of reasons we can give is at least in principle infinite. I argue that this type of infinity is benign because, when we continue to give reasons, we will eventually merely repeat previously stated reasons. Consequently, I reject Klein's claim that the more reasons we give the more we increase the justification of our beliefs.

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Matthias Steup
University of Colorado, Boulder


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