DOES FOUNDATIONALISM WORK?
Chapter I. The tenets essential to any foundationalist theory are stated. These tenets make reference to the concept of a basic proposition. Literature discussing and attempting to define this concept is surveyed and assessed.
Chapter II. The definitions surveyed are seen to make use of the concept of epistemic justification. Two senses of justification--external and internal--are distinguished and discussed. A definition of basic propositions is offered using the external sense of justification.
Chapter III. A variety of theories, all satisfying the essential tenets of foundationalism, are distinguished. Special attention is given to Cartesian foundationalism and its relation to the other theories distinguished. Something is said about the motivation for accepting Cartesian foundationalism.
Chapter IV. A variety of criticisms of foundationalism are assessed from the point of view of determining whether they are successful against Cartesian foundationalism. It is shown that many criticisms are directed against tenets associated with but not essential to Cartesian foundationalism. Other criticisms attack Cartesian foundationalism more directly, but are shown to be unsuccessful.
Chapter V. Critics allege that Cartesian foundationalism requires the existence of "the given" and that either the given does not exist or it cannot provide the foundation for knowledge that the Cartesian foundationalist requires of it. The arguments of these critics are assessed. It is concluded that they too are unsuccessful.
Chapter VI. Chisholm's version of Cartesian foundationalism is assessed. It is found to be unsatisfactory in its attempt to establish a bridging principle that would state the conditions under which a basic proposition justifies a nonbasic proposition.
Chapter VII. After considering some criticisms by Pollack pertinent to establishing foundational principles, a revision of one of Chisholm's bridging principles is formulated and discussed. It is concluded that the revised principle can serve as a plausible component of a Cartesian foundationalist theory. No complete theory is developed, but directions are suggested for future work.