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About Kelly Fitzsimmons Burton
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Retrieving Knowledge: A Socratic Response to Skepticism is an exercise in retrieval philosophy, using philosophical principles from the past to address contemporary challenges. The book begins with first philosophy’s search for a logos, a source of explanation of the order and rationality in the world, and the failure to ground the logos in being. The story picks up with the skepticism of the Sophists and Socrates’ attempt to address the epistemological and metaphysical sources of the skepticism of his day in Plato’s dialogue Theaetetus. Through this dialogue, we come to grapple with the definition of knowledge and the problems inherent with first philosophy’s materialism. Knowledge is defined as a true belief with a logos (or an account). The theme of the logos is continued from first philosophy to Socrates and then to the Modern period of philosophy where we encounter a similar skepticism that Socrates addresses, a skepticism arising from metaphysical naturalism and empiricism. The moderate naturalism and empiricism of the Modern philosophers become the radical naturalism and empiricism of Nietzsche and the post-Nietzschean philosophers. The radical naturalism and empiricism of the post-Nietzschean philosophers lead to a contemporary negative nihilism carried out by the continental postmodernists, and a positive nihilism carried out by the Pragmatists and the “willing out beyond” of new values after Nietzsche’s transvaluation of all values. Retrieval of the arguments of Socrates from the Theaetetus is used to address contemporary skepticism in the same way that Socrates addressed the skepticism of his day. Post-Nietzschean philosophy poses challenges beyond what Socrates faced; thus, a new direction for the future of philosophy is needed. The epilogue provides a blueprint for how the original search for the logos as the heart of philosophy may continue today.
there is a long history in Anglo-American epistemology that
traces back to the classical internalist views of Rene Descartes
and John Locke. Internalism is the view that an individual
has special access to that quantity or quality that makes true
belief into knowledge. This internalism, according to Plantinga,
is motivated by deontology - or epistemic duty fulfillment.
Closely connected with epistemic deontology is justification.
Justification (or what Plantinga prefers to call 'warrant') is that
quantity or quality, enough of which makes true belief into
knowledge. Plantinga strongly objects to the deontological
view of justification, claiming that no amount of duty fulfillment
can get us to knowledge. He says justification is neither
necessary nor sufficient for warrant.
In Warrant: The Current Debate (hereafter WCD) Plantinga
examines several versions of internalism - from Classical
and Post-Classical Chisholmian internalism, several forms of
coherentism, to reliabilism - to show that none of these views
get us to that quantity or quality enough of which makes true
belief into knowledge. Plantinga rejects all of these views,
arguing that what is needed is a view that takes into account the
proper function of our cognitive faculties. He then proposes to
give a more accurate account of warrant in Warrant and Proper
Function (WPF). Plantinga's theory is that a belief is warranted
if it is formed by cognitive faculties functioning properly in an
appropriate environment and according to a good design plan.
The purpose of this book is to examine Plantinga's view of
cognitive malfunction in connection with his view of warrant
and his rejection of the traditional view of justification. I
will argue that the cognitive faculty of reason does not and
cannot malfunction in the way that Plantinga either explicitly
or implicitly suggests. Consequently Plantinga's criticism of
justification does not stand. I argue further that if reason is
not subject to malfunction and is thus reliable, the traditional
view of justification - having appropriate reasons for belief
in conjunction with true belief, possibly with the addition of
a fourth condition (the carefulness criterion) - will get us to