Foundational Evidentialism and the Problem of Scatter

Ted Poston


This paper addresses the scatter problem for foundational
evidentialism. Reflection on the scatter problem uncovers significant
epistemological lessons. The scatter problem is evaluated in connection
with Ernest Sosa’s use of the problem as an argument against foundational
evidentialism. Sosa’s strategy is to consider a strong intuition in favor
of internalism—the new evil demon problem, and then illustrate how a
foundational evidentialist account of the new evil demon problem succumbs to
the scatter problem. The goal in this paper is to evaluate the force of the
scatter problem. The main argument of the paper is that the scatter problem
has mixed success. On the one hand, scatter undermines objectual
evidentialism, an evidentialist theory that formulates principles of basic
perceptual justification in terms of the objects (or properties) of
perceptual states. On the other hand, the problem of scatter does not
undermine content evidentialism, an evidentialist view that formulates its
epistemic principles in terms of the assertive content of perceptual states.
The significance of the scatter problem, especially in concert with the new
evil demon problem, is that it provides an argument for content

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