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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 25, 2000

Timothy McGrew, Lydia McGrew
Pages 47-66
DOI: 10.5840/jpr_2000_13

Foundationalism, Transitivity and Confirmation

John Post has argued that the traditional regress argument against nonfoundational justificatory structures does not go through because it depends on the false assumption that “justifies” is in general transitive. But, says Post, many significant justificatory relations are not transitive. The authors counter that there is an evidential relation essential to all inferential justification, regardless of specific inference form or degree of carried-over justificatory force, which is in general transitive. They respond to attempted counterexamples to transitivity brought by Watkins and Salmon as well as to Post’s, arguing that none of these counterexamples apply to the relation they are describing. Given the revived transitivity assumption using this relation, the regress argument does indeed demonstrate the need for foundational stopping points in inferential justification.