Plantinga proposes a negative and a positive way of addressing this problem. The negative way seeks to demonstrate that the evidentionlist project will not hold up. The positive way seeks to offer a rationale for Reformed Epistmeology.
The Negative (analytical) Argument
Plantings grants those propositions which are self-evident, evident to the senses, or incorrigible are properly basic. Plantinga's objection is with the evidentialist who claims that only these propositions are properly basic. Plantinga wants to include other beliefs (such as belief in the past, belief in other minds, etc.)
The foundationalist contention is presented as (19):
- (19) "A is properly basic for me only if A is self-evident or incorrigible or evident to the senses."
Plantinga argues that one is rational in accepting (19) only if either (19) is properly basic or (19) relates to propositions which are properly basic. Now, Plantinga thinks that its obvious that (19) is neither self-evident, evident to the sense, nor incorrigible. Therefore , Plantinga makes the following claims:
- N1 - (19) is not properly basic.
N2 - since no one has demonstrated that (19) relates to propositions which are properly basic, then, Plantinga asserts, not only is there no compelling reason to accept (19) but also to do so would be epistemologically irresponsible (on Clifford's criterion - there is not sufficient evidence).