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How can we justify beliefs?

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Introduction

How can we justify beliefs? People believe we can justify beliefs in the following ways: Quantity and quality of evidence Anything that is believed based on evidence and seen at first sight and which you can be fairly sure about is something which you can be justified in believing. A number of things could be counted as "good evidence" and be taken seriously, e.g. eveidence like DNA samples and tests in a court of law. In different circumstances this evidence may not be adequate but the requirements that we would expect before a claim is justified is what is important, this point of quality and quantity of evidence is an obvious point to make but is undeniable and important. Predictive and explanatory power Justification of beliefs may have been made but the different degrees that the justification has been met have to be taken into account too. You may believe in a belief but this may be justified to certain degrees. A highly justified belief however, may also not be true and fail to be knowledge and a true belief you hold with insufficient justification may be true but not may be knowledge. ...read more.

Middle

E.g. if you looked at a timetable given to you by the college to tell you when your lessons were you would assume this was reliable and therefore give you a very high degree of justification or this belief. The further question to this is which methods of acquiring this knowledge f are the reliable ones? This cannot be the ones that always give us true beliefs as this has not always worked because even though beliefs have had no or little grounds to be believed on sometimes they have in fact turned out to be true. Sometimes there is no causal connection between how things come about and may just be complete coincidence or done by accident. Using a reliable method, if you can find one, is an excellent way to justify beliefs but the appeal of reliable methods does not go beyond any of the points mentioned above. Foundationalism Foundational beliefs are ones that need no futher support as they are known straight off to be true, their truth is carried on the surface, all other justified beliefs are justified as they they depend on or derived from other foundational propositions. ...read more.

Conclusion

To be justified in believing one of the less fundamental beliefs it must be derived from a fundamental and underived belief. If there is no fundamental belief connected to the less fundamental belief then it will continually be dependant on less fundamental beliefs. This leads to an infinite regress however an infinite regress is impossible so there must be some beliefs which are self justifying or foundational. Another criticism is the link between foundational knowledge and knowledge that is derived, the link between these is not known. Coherence The last point raised is that of sense data reports. Is it possible that they cannot pretend to be self evident truths? They may sometimes be obvious but they are not self evident, they are subjective to the individual and there credibility only rests on their simplicity. Unlike foundationalism which regards as every belief being justified by another and another etc a coherentist defines justification in terms of relations of mutual support. Accepting a new belief is seeing if the new belief fits in with already accepted beliefs. Propositions that are in conflict with one another are obviously not accepted by coherentist and they only accept beliefs that can support with their system. ...read more.

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