Foundationalism and Coherentism

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Define foundationalism and coherentism, identifying the epistemological question they are intended to answer. Discuss the arguments in favor of and against both positions, drawing from Bonjour and Sosa*. Finally, consider either Sosa’s reliabilism, Greco’s virtue epistemology, or Annis’ contextualism, and defend any one of the theories of justification (i.e., foundationalism, coherentism, reliabilism, virtue epistemology, or contextualism) as superior to the others.

Your essay should be about six to eight pages in length, 1.5 or double-spaced, in 10-12 pt. typeface, and with standard margins.

You are allowed (and expected) to refer to your text when writing your essay, but do not use other materials. You may quote or paraphrase the primary text, but you must use citations. In either case, simply put the title of the work and page number in parentheses at the end of your sentence, rather than in footnotes. For example,
Descartes argues that we cannot know we are not dreaming, because in the past, we have had dreams where we believed we were awake (Meditations, p. 115).

Your essays will be evaluated according to three criteria:

Demonstrated comprehension of the material: this means that you present a detailed and accurate account of the views of the philosophers in question, and do so in your own words. Direct quotes from the text are allowed, but they should be used judiciously.
Demonstrated ability to think critically about the topic: when asked to evaluate a philosphical position, you are required not only to state your view, but also give reasons in support of it. More importantly, these reasons should be relevant, i.e., it is not enough to explain why you happen to take a given position, you need to provide evidence that your position is in fact true. Also, be fair: being either overly generous or dismissive of a philosophical position does not demonstrate an ability to think critically (and is un-philosophical).
Quality of writing: your essay should be focused on answering the question, with an appropriate degree of selectively given the page constraints. The essay should well structured both from one paragraph to the next and within paragraphs. Spelling and grammatical errors are inexcusable, and will result in a lower overall grade.

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