Issues of intellectual trust, both in ourselves and in others, are of fundamental importance for how we conduct our intellectual lives, but in general these issues have not received the attention they deserve from epistemologists, in large part because of the influence of classical foundationalists, whose aim was to develop an epistemology that would provide guarantees that our beliefs are generally accurate. Within such an epistemology, there is no need for, and indeed no room for, a basic trust in one's intellectual faculties and the opinions they generate. However, the classical foundationalist project has failed. There are no non-question-begging assurances that our faculties and opinions are largely reliable. As a result, all of our intellectual projects require a significant leap of intellectual faith in ourselves, the need for which cannot be eliminated by further argumentation or inquiry.
With the fall of classical foundationalism, the way was cleared for a greater appreciation of this point, but various trends in contemporary epistemology continue to mask the importance of intellectual self-trust. Some epistemologists take for granted that the theory of natural selection is capable of providing us with assurances that our opinions are largely reliable. Others try to provide assurances of reliability by arguing that skeptical hypotheses are necessarily self-refuting.
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