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Encyclopedia > Laurence BonJour

Laurence BonJour (Ph.D., 1969, Princeton University) is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington. He received his bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Political Science from Macalester College and his doctorate from Princeton. His interests are in Epistemology, Kant, and British empiricism. 1969 (MCMLXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday For other uses, see Number 1969. ... Princeton University, incorporated as The Trustees of Princeton University, located in Princeton, New Jersey, is the fourth-oldest institution to conduct higher education in the United States. ... The University of Washington, founded in 1861, is a major public research university in Seattle, Washington. ... Macalester College is a privately supported coeducational liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota. ... Empiricism is generally regarded as being at the heart of the modern scientific method, that our theories should be based on our observations of the world rather than on intuition or faith; that is, empirical research and a posteriori inductive reasoning rather than purely deductive logic. ...

BonJour is with Roderick Chisholm, Keith Lehrer, and Michael Williams at the centre of contentious issues in contemporary epistemology. Initially defending coherentism in his anti-foundationalist critique The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, he identified the isolation problem existing in coherence theories of knowledge, and he has begun to defend Cartesian foundationalism in such works as Epistemology. In his book In Defense of Pure Reason he wrote a sustained defense of a priori justification, strongly criticizing radical empiricists and pragmatists who dismiss it (such as W. V. O. Quine and Richard Rorty). Roderick M. Chisholm Roderick M Chisholm (born in Seekonk, Massachusetts in 1916; died in Providence in 1999) was an American philosopher, known for his work on epistemology, metaphysics, free will, and the philosophy of perception. ... Kieth Lehrer is the Regents Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona with an affiliation with the University of Miami in Florida. ... Epistemology, from the Greek words episteme (knowledge) and logos (word/speech) is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature, origin and scope of knowledge. ... Coherentism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Cartesian means of or relating to the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes. ... ... A priori is a Latin phrase meaning from the former or less literally before experience. In much of the modern Western tradition, the term a priori is considered to mean propositional knowledge that can be had without, or prior to, experience. ... W. V. Quine Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908 - December 25, 2000) was one of the most influential American philosophers and logicians of the 20th century. ... Richard McKay Rorty (born October 4, 1931 in New York City) is an American philosopher. ...




  • The Structure of Empirical Knowledge. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), pp. xiii, 258.
  • In Defense of Pure Reason. (London: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. xiv, 232.
  • Epistemology: Classic Problems and Contemporary Responses. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), pp. viii, 283.
  • Epistemic Justification: Internalism vs. Externalism, Foundations vs. Virtues (jointly with Ernest Sosa). (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), pp. vii, 240.
  • Philosophical Problems: An Annotated Anthology (jointly edited with Ann Baker). (New York: Longman, 2005), pp. xvi, 876.

Ernest Sosa is the current Romeo Elton Professor of Natural Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Brown University, Rhode Island and regular visiting professor of philosophy at Rutgers University. ...


  • "Sellars on Truth and Picturing", International Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 13 (1973), pp. 243-65.
  • "Rescher's Idealistic Pragmatism", The Review of Metaphysics, vol. 29 (1976), pp. 702-26.
  • "Determinism, Libertarianism, and Agent Causation", The Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 14 (1976), pp. 145-56.
  • "The Coherence Theory of Empirical Knowledge", Philosophical Studies, vol. 30 (1976), pp. 281-312; reprinted in Paul Moser (ed.) Empirical Knowledge (Rowman & Littlefield, 1986), in Louis Pojman (ed.), The Theory of Knowledge (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1993), and in Michael Goodman and Robert A. Snyder (eds.) Contemporary Readings in Epistemology (Prentice-Hall, 1993).
  • "Can Empirical Knowledge Have a Foundation?" American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 15 (1978), pp. 1-14; reprinted in Paul Moser (ed.), Empirical Knowledge (Totowa, N. J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1986) and in Louis Pojman (ed.), The Theory of Knowledge (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1993).
  • "Rescher's Philosophical System", in E. Sosa (ed.), The Philosophy of Nicholas Rescher (Dordrecht, the Netherlands: D. Reidel, 1979), pp. 157-72.
  • "Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. 5 (1980), pp. 53-73.
  • "Reply to Christlieb", The Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 24 (1986), pp. 415-29.
  • "A Reconsideration of the Problem of Induction", Philosophical Topics, vol. 14 (1986), pp. 93-124.
  • "Nozick, Externalism, and Skepticism", in S. Luper-Foy (ed.), The Possibility of Knowledge: Nozick and His Critics (Totowa, N. J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1987), pp. 297-313.
  • "Reply to Steup", Philosophical Studies, vol.
  • "Reply to Moser", Analysis, vol. 48 (1988), pp. 164-65.
  • "Replies and Clarifications", in J. W. Bender (ed.), The Current State of the Coherence Theory: Essays on the Epistemic Theories of Keith Lehrer and Laurence BonJour (Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer, 1989), pp. 276-92.
  • "Reply to Solomon", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  • "Is Thought a Symbolic Process?" Synthese, vol. 89 (1991), pp. 331-52.
  • "A Rationalist Manifesto", Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary Volume 18 (1992), pp. 53-88.
  • "Fumerton on Coherence Theories", Journal of Philosophical Research, vol. 19 (1994), pp. 104-108.
  • "Against Naturalized Epistemology", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. 19 (1994), pp. 283-300.
  • "Sosa on Knowledge, Justification, and 'Aptness'", Philosophical Studies, vol. 78 (1995), pp. 207-220.
  • "Toward a Moderate Rationalism", Philosophical Topics, vol. 23 (1995), pp. 47-78.
  • "Plantinga on Knowledge and Proper Function", in Jonathan Kvanvig (ed.), Warrant in Contemporary Epistemology ( Rowman & Littlefield, 1996), pp. 47-71.
  • "Haack on Justification and Experience", Synthese.
  • "The Dialectic of Foundationalism and Coherentism", in the Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, ed. John Greco and Ernest Sosa, Blackwell.
  • "Toward a Defense of Empirical Foundationalism", in Michael DePaul (ed.), Resurrecting Old-Fashioned Foundationalism (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). With a reply to criticisms by John Pollock and Alvin Plantinga.
  • "Foundationalism and the External World", in James Tomberlin (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 13 (2000).
  • Critical study of Evan Fales, A Defense of the Given, Nous.
  • "The Indispensability of Internalism", Philosophical Topics.
  • "Internalism and Externalism", in the Oxford Handbook of Epistemology, ed. Paul Moser.

Encyclopedia and Dictionary Articles

  • "Externalism/Internalism" and "Problems of Induction", in E. Sosa & J. Dancy (eds.), A Companion To Epistemology (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992).
  • "A Priori/A Posteriori", "Coherence Theory of Truth" and "Broad, Charlie Dunbar" in The Cambridge Dictionary Of Philosophy, ed. Robert Audi, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • "Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge", in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • "Epistemological Problems of Perception", in the on-line Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


  • Of Gilbert Harman, Thought, Philosophical Review, vol. 84 (1975), pp. 256-58.
  • Of R. M. Dworkin (ed.), Philosophy of Law; and Kenneth Kipnis (ed.), Philosophical Issues in Law, Teaching Philosophy, vol. 2 (1977-78), pp. 325-28.
  • Of James Cornman, Skepticism, Justification, and Explanation, Philosophical Review, vol. 91 (1982), pp. 612-15.
  • Of D. J. O'Connor and Brian Carr, Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge, Teaching Philosophy, vol. 7 (1984), pp. 64-66.
  • Of Paul Ziff, Epistemic Analysis, Canadian Philosophical Reviews
  • Of Lorraine Code, Epistemic Responsibility, Philosophical Review.
  • Of Alan Goldman, Empirical Knowledge, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  • Of Robert Fogelin, Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification, Times Literary Supplement.
  • Of Michael DePaul and William Ramsey (eds.), Rethinking Intuition, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
  • Of Paul Boghossian and Christopher Peacocke (eds.), New Essays on the A Priori, forthcoming in Mind.

External links

  • Laurence BonJour

  Results from FactBites:
20th WCP: BonJour's 'Basic Antifoundationalist Argument' (5141 words)
Laurence BonJour observes that critics of foundationalism tend to argue against it by objecting to "relatively idiosyncratic" versions of it, a strategy which has "proven in the main to be superficial and ultimately ineffective" since answers immune to the objections emerge quickly.
Note that BonJour's Rule is perfectly general, so it applies to the beliefs mentioned in conditions (i) and (ii); moreover, it is reiterative, so it entails that a person's belief that p at a time is justified only if she has infinitely many other justified beliefs of a certain sort at that time.
Understood the first way, BonJour characterizes the proponent of the given as either failing to distinguish justifying one's belief that a proposition is true (the activity of justifying) from being justified in believing it (the state of being justified), or insisting that one cannot be justified without showing that one is justified.
Strange Loops - BonJour's Internalist Foundationalism (2476 words)
For BonJour, an occurrent belief or thought (first-order state) is a conscious state on its own (not based on any higher-level states), where what the believer/thinker is conscious of is the propositional content and character of the belief.
BonJour then extends this idea from providing a justification for non-apperceptive meta-beliefs about the content and character of occurrent first-order beliefs or thoughts to providing a justification for analogous meta-beliefs about the content and character of sensory experiences (for example, experiencing the sight of a particular, non-conceptual tree).
BonJour further claims that the only possible analog explanation is the quasi-commonsensical hypothesis; therefore it is the best possible explanation and we are thus justified in accepting it.
  More results at FactBites »



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