Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Philosophy and Religion

First Advisor

C. D. Meyers, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Philosophy and Religion

Abstract

There exists a long standing debate between foundationalism and coherentism in epistemology. To resolve this debate, Susan Haack argues for a third, alternative theory—foundherentism—that incorporates the good elements of both foundationalism and coherentism while avoiding their shortcomings. It incorporates the foundationalist view that experiential input is necessary for empirical justification. And it incorporates the coherentist view that all beliefs can be justified in virtue of their mutually supportive relationships with other beliefs.

The debate between foundationalism and coherentism extends to moral epistemology. I will employ the same sort of strategy in an attempt to resolve this intractable dispute. I will construct and defend an alternative theory—moral foundherentism—and argue that it incorporates the good elements of moral foundationalism (intuitionism) as well as moral coherentism (the method of reflective equilibrium) while avoiding their shortcomings. The proposed theory incorporates the moral foundationalist view that intuitive input is necessary in order for moral beliefs to be justified to any degree. And it accommodates the moral coherentist view that all moral beliefs can be justified in virtue of their mutually supportive relationships with other (moral and non-moral) beliefs.

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