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Foundationalism, Probability, and Mutual Support

Lydia McGrew and Timothy McGrew
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan., 2008), pp. 55-77
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267466
Page Count: 23
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Foundationalism, Probability, and Mutual Support
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Abstract

The phenomenon of mutual support presents a specific challenge to the foundationalist epistemologist: Is it possible to model mutual support accurately without using circles of evidential support? We argue that the appearance of loops of support arises from a failure to distinguish different synchronic lines of evidential force. The ban on loops should be clarified to exclude loops within any such line, and basing should be understood as taking place within lines of evidence. Uncertain propositions involved in mutual support relations are conduits to each other of independent evidence originating ultimately in the foundations. We examine several putative examples of benign loops of support and show that, given the distinctions noted, they can be accurately modeled in a foundationalist fashion. We define an evidential "tangle," a relation among three propositions that appears to require a loop for modeling, and prove that all such tangles are trivial in a sense that precludes modeling them with an evidential circle.

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