The Trouble with Infinitism

Research paper by Andrew D. Cling

Indexed on: 01 Jan '04Published on: 01 Jan '04Published in: Synthese


One way to solve the epistemic regress problem would be to show that we can acquire justification by means of an infinite regress. This is infinitism. This view has not been popular, but Peter Klein has developed a sophisticated version of infinitism according to which all justified beliefs depend upon an infinite regress of reasons. Klein's argument for infinitism is unpersuasive, but he successfully responds to the most compelling extant objections to the view. A key component of his position is his claim that an infinite regress is necessary, but not sufficient, for justified belief. This enables infinitism to avoid a number of otherwise compelling objections. However, it commits infinitism to the existence of an additional feature of reasons that is necessary and, together with the regress condition, sufficient for justified belief. The trouble with infinitism is that any such condition could account for the connection between justification and truth only by undermining the rationale for the regress condition itself.