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Justification - Haack

Susan Haack is the most famous defender of a compromise between coherentism and foundationalism.

Susan Haack
Susan Haack

Her foundherentism likens justified belief systems to crossword puzzles.

In solving a crossword puzzle, your justification for accepting a given answer to one entry (say, 1-down) will be enhanced by its fit with your other answers for intersecting entries (say, 2-across). This is an example of the coherentist’s idea of mutual support in action. But you cannot solve the puzzle without relying on the clues external to the network of entries (you can’t just write in any set of words that fit the grid!). This is an example of the foundationalist’s idea of given evidence in action.

Haack thinks that an adequate account of the structure of justification must take advantage of both of these ideas from coherentism and foundationalism.


For a more complete guide to this topic, you might consult the following entries from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
“Foundationalist Theories of Epistemic Justification”, by Richard Fumerton (
“Coherentist Theories of Epistemic Justification”, by Erik Olsson (
Also recommended are the following entries from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
“Foundationalism”, by Ted Poston (
“Coherentism in Epistemology”, by Peter Murphy (
“Infinitism in Epistemology”, by Peter Klein and John Turri (
At Southampton, we run various modules that address these and similar issues, including Knowledge and Mind, Epistemology, Scepticism, and The Ethics of Belief. Many of our staff undertake research in this and related areas of epistemology, such as Dr. Kurt Sylvan, Dr. Genia Schönbaumsfeld, and Dr. Conor McHugh.
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