Cover: The Theory of Epistemic Rationality, from Harvard University PressCover: The Theory of Epistemic Rationality in E-DITION

The Theory of Epistemic Rationality

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674334236

Publication Date: 09/08/1987

335 pages


Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

How do we know reality? The prevalent theory has been that we construct knowledge upon absolute foundations, the way the Egyptians built pyramids. In recent years this foundationalist account has come under attack from a number of directions, from those who want to make epistemology a branch of cognitive science to those who reject out of hand the search for foundational certainty. Richard Foley’s book defends a modified form of foundationalism that does not depend on our having privileged access to the truth of foundational propositions.

Foley presents the idea of rational belief going back to Aristotle’s concept of rationality—as the basis for what he calls “subjective foundationalism.” Epistemological rationality is subjective for Foley because he sees the rationality of a belief as dependent on the cognitive resources and tendencies of the believer. He is able thereby to accommodate the strong “internalist” intuition telling us that whether it is rational for us to believe something depends on how that thing appears within our perspective on the world. But Foley removes a large part of the curse of subjectivism by making rationality dependent not on what the subject thinks, or is inclined to think at the moment of belief, but on what the subject would be inclined to think as a result of an ideally conducted reflection.

The foundationalists, he asserts, with their obsessive search for guarantors of truth, get the structure of epistemic rationality right but the spirit wrong. Foley gives a novel and provocative account of the nature of epistemic rationality.

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, by Khalil Gibran Muhammad, from Harvard University Press

“Predictive Policing” and Racial Profiling

While technology used in policing has improved, it hasn’t progressed, says Khalil Gibran Muhammad, if racial biases are built into those new technologies. This excerpt from his book, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, shows that for the reform called for by the current protests against systemic racism and racially-biased policing to be fulfilled, the police—especially those at the top—will need to change their pre-programmed views on race and the way they see the Black citizens they are supposed to “serve and protect.”