Past Meetup

Critiquing Foundationalism

Hosted by The San Diego Philosophers' Roundtable

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This Meetup is past

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Written by Tom:

Now it is time for the critics of foundationalism to present their cases. This is a free-ranging follow-up meeting to discuss "Staging Foundationalism" and "Building Knowledge" (Jan. 31 (, Feb. 7 (, Feb. 14 (

Proponents of coherentism, reliabilism, and antirealism have criticized foundationalism on various technical features of its theory of justification, as they understand it. What are these features? How have they been attacked? Are they defeasible?

Rebuttally, what are the presuppositions of the critics' arguments? Are they valid? Are their premises coherent, reliable, justifiable, true, supportive, interpretive, meaningful, powerful?


Written by Tim 2/25/2013:

I suggested to Tom that we explore criticisms against foundationalism. My hope is that after this meeting, we'll walk away with a stronger and more confident understanding of whichever epistemological view we choose to subscribe to, as well as a better understanding of our opponents'. As the host, I'll be tasked to guide the discussion.

I know not all of us agrees with foundationalism, so I encourage you share your views and why you disagree with foundationalism. If you would like to present your argument, please respond to this post. You do not need to explain why here, as I will fit you into the agenda.

Thanks, everyone! :)

P.S. If you'd like to take notes, please being your own pen!


Additional context written by Tim 3/4/2013:

Hey gang,

I'm pleased to see so much discussion! I'm also passionate about epistemology since it's the basis for all thinking.

The main reason why I've become interested in philosophy is because I needed to know how do we know what we know is true. Foundationalism asserts that we know what we know to be true because of our perceptions. How do we know our perceptions are accurate? Is there a reason to doubt our perceptions? Our perceptions are given to us (thus the burden of proof is on the doubter). You either perceive or you don't. This is where it all starts.

You can say I am "searching." In order to be objective, I'd like to explore other epistemological views before I can confidently say foundationalism is THE answer. I can say, however, that I can no longer argue against foundationalism (you can ask Tom how long I've argued against it for the sake of objectivity).

Another concern of mine is that I'm subscribing to foundationalism because it appeals to my emotions rather than to logic. I really need to examine foundationalism, or ANY other epistemological view, with a fine-toothed comb.

I don't have any formal training in philosophy (and that's the beauty of philosophy - formal training is not required to think). Tom has said that because I haven't been indoctrinated, my acceptance of foundationalism came a lot easier than others. I didn't have much, if any, other epistemological beliefs to fight against. However, I can also see how one could I argue that I merely accepted the first epistemological view that I have spent significant time with. I don't believe I have because I have spent just as much time doubting it, but hey, maybe I'll find out otherwise this Thursday?

I have a feeling we're going to be really tight on time again. Probably more so than ever given all the discussion we already have on this page. I'd like to ask that we try to keep our discussion on Thursday as pertinent as possible and keep tangents to a minimum. This will be an important discussion for myself and many others.

Thank you!

P.S. Just because something opposes your view doesn't make it wrong. I'd like to remind everyone that we should be open to the idea that we could be wrong (given opposing proof), and that we make decisions based on the rigors of logic/reason/rational thinking (not sure what the correct word is here, so choose your poison :-P).