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Logos & Episteme

Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012

David M. Godden
Pages 51-74

Rethinking the Debriefing Paradigm: The Rationality of Belief Perseverance

By examining particular cases of belief perseverance following the undermining of their original evidentiary grounds, this paper considers two theories of rational belief revision: foundation and coherence. Gilbert Harman has argued for coherence over foundationalism on the grounds that the foundations theory absurdly deems most of our beliefs to be not rationally held. A consequence of the unacceptability of foundationalism is that belief perseverance is rational. This paper defends the intuitive judgement that belief perseverance is irrational by offering a competing explanation of what goes on in cases like the debriefing paradigm which does not rely upon foundationalist principles but instead shows that such cases are properly viewed as instances of positive undermining of the sort described by the coherence theory.