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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 41, Issue Supplement, 2016

Selected Papers in Honor of William P. Alston

Michael P. Lynch, Paul Silva, Jr.
Pages 33-52

Why Worry about Epistemic Circularity?

Although Alston believed epistemically circular arguments were able to justify their conclusions, he was also disquieted by them. We will argue that Alston was right to be disquieted. We explain Alston’s view of epistemic circularity, the considerations that led him to accept it, and the purposes he thought epistemically circular arguments could serve. We then build on some of Alston’s remarks and introduce further limits to the usefulness of such arguments and introduce a new problem that stems from those limits. The upshot is that adopting Alston’s view that epistemically circular arguments can be used to justify their conclusions is more costly than even he thought.

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