Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Foundationalism When addressing the method of justification known as foundationalism, we see that the concept of using beliefs to justify the rationality of others is its backbone. In the search for the formation of true belief it offers three major premises; that an infinite regress does not yield justification or rationality, circularity does not yield justification, and that reasons must end with intrinsically credible beliefs. These are the three possibilities for the structure of reasons dealt with in foundationalism. But within these basic properties, there is room for success as well as fallibility when dealing with basic belief formation and the credibility of an intrinsically credible belief, and both will be addressed throughout this paper. But first, the main points of foundationalism must be addressed in further depth.

The raw elements of foundationalism are such that a group of basic beliefs that one holds is used as a base, or foundation, which serve as a last stop in the justification of the various beliefs one forms.

Such basic beliefs must be the sort that are intrinsically credible, and thus the most elementary beliefs which do not depend on others for their own justification. Foundationalism in itself then requires one to reason with a basis of ideas that are justified as prima facie, the beliefs that are justified at "first glance," or are self contained ideas which are inherent in their justification. For an idea to be considered prima facie justified it is justified unless it is defeated by a specific piece of counter evidence.

Since so many ideas are formed, accepted and rejected throughout the course of one's existence, foundationalism relies on these basic beliefs in order to justify the numerous random beliefs that are acquired and are not intrinsic. Hence, foundationalist beliefs must be able to...