Foundationalism is any theory in
epistemology(typically, theories of justification, but also of knowledge) that holds that beliefs are justified (known, etc.) based on what are called " basic beliefs" (also commonly called foundational beliefs). Basic beliefs are beliefs that give justificatory support to other beliefs, and more derivative beliefs are based on those more basic beliefs. The basic beliefs are said to be self-justifying or self-evident, that is, they enjoy a non-inferential warrant (or justification), i.e., they are not justified "by other beliefs." Typically and historically, foundationalists have held either that basic beliefs are justified by mental events or states, such as experiences, that do not constitute beliefs (these are called nondoxasticmental states), or that they simply are not the type of thing that can be (or needs to be) justified.
Hence, generally, a foundationalist might offer the following
theory of justification:
:A belief is "epistemically justified" if and only if (1) it is justified by a basic belief or beliefs, or (2) it is justified by a chain of beliefs that is supported by a basic belief or beliefs, and on which all the others are ultimately based.
A basic belief, on the other hand, does not require justification because it is a different kind of belief than a non-foundational one.
Historical foundationalism: rationalism vs. empiricism
Historically, two varieties of foundationalist theories were
rationalismand empiricism(or British Empiricism). Strictly speaking, neither empiricism nor rationalism is necessarily committed to foundationalism (it is possible to be an empiricist coherentist, for example, and that was a common epistemological position in 20th century philosophy).
Rationalism is the general name for epistemological theories that maintain that reason is the source and criterion of knowledge. Rationalists generally hold that so-called truths of reason are the (most important) epistemologically basic propositions. The historical, continental
rationalismexpounded by René Descartesis often regarded as antithetical to empiricism, while some contemporary rationalists assert that reason is strongest when it is supported by or consistent with empirical evidence and hence relies heavily on empirical sciencein analyzing justifications for belief. Descartes famously held that some of these truths are known innately and therefore constitute basic innate knowledge, a view not always held in contemporary rationalism.
Empiricism is the general name for epistemological theories that maintain that sensation reports are the source and criterion of knowledge. Classical empiricists generally held that such reports are indubitable and incorrigible and therefore worthy of serving as epistemologically basic propositions.
Alternatives to foundationalism
Alternatives to foundationalism, usually called
Anti-foundationalism, include coherentism, foundherentism, reformed epistemology. Many forms of reliabilismare foundationalist, but reliabilist theories need not be foundationalist. [sep entry|justep-foundational|Foundational Theories of Epistemic Justification] Also see Pragmatism.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
foundationalism — The epistemological theory that noetic (belief) structures include two types of justified belief: (1) properly basic beliefs, which confer epistemic justification on other beliefs, but do not require it themselves, and (2) properly non basic… … Christian Philosophy
foundationalism — The view in epistemology that knowledge must be regarded as a structure raised upon secure, certain foundations. These are found in some combination of experience and reason, with different schools ( empiricism, rationalism ) emphasizing the role … Philosophy dictionary
foundationalism — In epistemology, the view that some beliefs can justifiably be held directly (e.g., on the basis of sense perception or rational intuition) and not by inference from other justified beliefs. Other types of beliefs (e.g., beliefs about material… … Universalium
foundationalism — noun The doctrine that beliefs derive justification from certain basic beliefs See Also: foundationalist … Wiktionary
Foundationalism — any justification or knowledge theory in epistemology that holds that beliefs are justified (known) when they are based on basic beliefs (also called foundational beliefs). Basic beliefs are beliefs that are self justifying or self evident, and… … Mini philosophy glossary
foundationalism — / fundamentalist Фундаментализм1,2 … Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов
Anti-foundationalism — (also called nonfoundationalism) as the name implies, is a term applied to any philosophy which rejects a foundationalist approach, i.e. an anti foundationalist is one who does not believe that there is some fundamental belief or principle which… … Wikipedia
foundation — foundationalism … Philosophy dictionary
Foundationalist — foundationalism … Philosophy dictionary
foundationalist — foundationalism … Philosophy dictionary