Jan Willem Wieland (2012). And So On. Two Theories of Regress Arguments in Philosophy. PhD Dissertation, Ghent University.
Abstract. This dissertation is on infinite regress arguments in philosophy. Its main goals are to explain what such arguments from many distinct philosophical debates have in common, and to provide guidelines for using and evaluating them. Two theories are reviewed: the Paradox Theory and the Failure Theory. According to the Paradox Theory, infinite regress arguments can be used to refute an existentially or universally quantified statement (e.g. to refute the statement that at least one discussion is settled, or the statement that discussions are settled only if there is an agreed-upon criterion to settle them). According to the Failure Theory, infinite regress arguments can be used to demonstrate that a certain solution fails to solve an existentially or universally quantified problem (e.g. to demonstrate that a certain solution fails to settle all discussions, or that it fails to settle even one discussion). In the literature, the Paradox Theory is fairly well-developed, and this dissertation provides the Failure Theory with the same tools.