A Uniform Account of Regress Problems
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This paper presents a uniform general account of regress problems in the form of a pentalemma—i.e., a set of five mutually inconsistent claims. Specific regress problems can be analyzed as instances of such a general schema, and this Regress Pentalemma Schema can be employed to generate deductively valid arguments from the truth of a subset of four claims to the falsity of the fifth. Thus, a uniform account of the nature of regress problems allows for an improved understanding of specific regress objections or arguments, and, correspondingly, of the general logical geography of the debate about infinite regresses. This uniform approach is illustrated by a treatment of the classical epistemological problem of justification, but it encompasses a whole variety of cases including explanation and ontological grounding. Furthermore, this general account is compared and contrasted with the existing literature discussing argument schemata for regress objections, particularly with the work of Jan Willem Wieland. It is shown how such other schemata can be incorporated and superseded by the general Regress Pentalemma Schema.
KeywordsInfinite regress Regress argument Regress objection Regress problem · Vicious regress Jan Willem Wieland Justification Agrippa’s trilemma Explanation Grounding.
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