Michael Daniel 9/26/2006 Sober, p.

194 – 199 Beyond Foundationalism Descartes’s and Hume’s philosophies can be refuted by refuting foundationalism. Both Descartes and Hume use foundationalism to prove their arguments. Sober believes that Hume is only correct if you accept foundationalism. If you do not accept foundationalism then Hume was wrong. Sober breaks Hume’s and Descartes’s arguments into three categories. The first category is indubitable beliefs, such as “I now seem to see a sunrise.” Descartes dealt with first category beliefs. The second category is present and past observations, such as “the sun is now rising,” or “the sun rose yesterday.” Both Descartes and Hume dealt with second category beliefs. The third category is predictions and generalizations, such as, “the sun will rise tomorrow.” Hume dealt with third category beliefs. Category one beliefs do not deductively imply or provide evidence for category two or three beliefs and category two beliefs do not deductively imply or provide evidence for category three beliefs. Descartes tried to use god as the bridge between category one and category two. Hume claimed that there is no rational justification whatsoever that would lead from category two to category three. The reason that they tried to build one level on top of the other is because they were using foundationalism. Sober presents an argument that, “You seem to see a printed page in front of you now,” therefore, “There is a printed page in front of you now.” The first statement is category one and the second statement is category two. Sober then argues that if you believe that your senses and environment are ‘normal’ then the argument is true if you assume that the reliability theory of knowledge is true. If you believe in Descartes’s or Hume’s foundationalism then the statement would be false.

Sober then presents another argument to connect category two to category three arguments. The argument is that, “I’ve examined lots of emeralds and all have been green,” therefore, “All emeralds are green.” He then quotes I.J. Good in saying, “Either there are lots of emeralds, of which 99 percent are green, or there are very few emeralds and all of them are green.” If you believe Mr. Good then the first statement in the argument refutes the second. In that case you would believe that, “If you examine lots of emeralds and all have been found to be green then probably all emeralds are green.” If you believe the assumptions of Hume then the argument is false. Sober argues that foundationalism leads to skepticism. If foundationalism is assumed, then Hume is right that category two beliefs do not deductively imply category three beliefs. Sober also says that, if foundationalism is assumed, Descartes is wrong that category one beliefs can deductively imply category two beliefs. Sober says that these arguments are another example of relativity thesis (the first one he presented was in lecture 14). He says that standards of justification depend on the audience. Sober says that in everyday life two people can justify things to each other if they have enough assumptions in common. If speaking to a skeptic, though, you can’t rationally convince them that any proposition is true.