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The Possibility of Philosophical UnderstandingReflections on the Thought of Barry Stroud$
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Jason Bridges, Niko Kolodny, and Wai-hung Wong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381658.001.0001

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Transcendental and Circular Reasoning *

Transcendental and Circular Reasoning *

(p.73) 5 Transcendental and Circular Reasoning*
The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding

Ernest Sosa

Oxford University Press

Epistemic circularity is discussed in four sections:1. Two forms of seemingly bad bootstrapping are explained. 2. Bootstrapping to the reliability of a competence that is not reason-involving also seems bad. We cannot provide a faculty with its required epistemic standing just by drawing the conclusion that it is reliable from a track-record argument based exclusively on data acquired through trusting that very faculty. The fundamental epistemic standing of our basic faculties derives rather from their serving us well in the harvest of information proper to a rational animal. 3. Although our basic competences acquire epistemic status in the way explained, this status might still be enhanced with the help of proper reasoning. 4. An argument is advanced in defense of trust in our epistemic faculties, one that involves circularity of a sort. A transcendental argument with that conclusion, based on content externalism, has been prominent in recent decades. The transcendental argument in this section is different, though complementary.

Keywords:   bootstrapping, vicious circularity, transcendental argument, epistemic circularity

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