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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 25, 2000

John Post, Derek Turner
Pages 67-82

Sic Transitivity
Reply to McGrew and McGrew

In order to defend the regress argument for foundationalism against Post’s objection that relevant forms of inferential justification are not transitive, Lydia McGrew and Timothy McGrew define a relation E of positive evidence, which, they contend, has the following features: It is a necessary condition for any inferential justification; it is transitive and irreflexive; and it enables both a strengthened regress argument proof against Post’s objection and an argument that nothing can ever appear in its own justificational ancestry. In reply, we construct in their own terms both a counterexample to the would-be transitivity of E, and a related objection to their never-in-its-own-ancestry argument. We also rebut their rejection of certain counterexamples to the would-be transitivity of some forms of inferential justification. By doing so, and by questioning their transitivity claim for E, we aim to further the project of undermining the circularity arguments advanced by a zoo of skeptics, relativists, antirealists and internalists against realism and externalism.