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Robert Audi (born November 1941) is an American philosopher whose major work has focused on epistemology, ethics—especially on ethical intuitionism, and the theory of action. He is Professor of Philosophy and David E. Gallo Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Notre Dame. His 2005 book, The Good in the Right, updates and strengthens Rossian intuitionism and develops the epistemology of ethics. He has also written important works of political philosophy, particularly on the relationship between church and state.

Audi earned his BA from Colgate University and his MA and PhD from the University of Michigan. He taught briefly at the University of Texas at Austin, and for many years as the Charles J. Mach University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln before moving to Notre Dame. He has served as General Editor of the First Edition (1995) and Second Edition (1999) of The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. He has also served as the general editor for "Modern Readings in Epistemology", as well as for "Modern readings in Metaphysics".



Audi has defended a position he calls "fallibilistic foundationalism." He thinks that the foundationalist response is the only tenable option of the epistemic regress argument. This states that if every belief has to be justified by some other, then the only options are four: infinite regress, circularity, stopping at a belief that isn't knowledge, and stopping at a basic belief that is itself justified. If the only alternative is the fourth, then if one has knowledge one has foundational knowledge. Audi considers that foundationalism is usually taken to be infallible. That is, it is normally associated with the view that knowledge is founded on basic beliefs that are axiomatic and necessarily true, and that the rest of knowledge is deduced from this set of beliefs. Audi thinks that foundationalism may be fallible, in the sense that the suprastructure of beliefs may be derived inductively from the basic beliefs, and hence may be fallible. He also thinks that basic beliefs need not be necessary truths, but merely have some structure which makes epistemic transition possible. For example, the belief that one is in the presence of an object arises causally from visual perception.

Reference: Audi, "Contemporary Foundationalism".

Select Bibliography



  • Belief, Justification, and Knowledge. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1986. (Second edition: 2008?)
  • Action, Intention, and Reason. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993.
  • The Structure of Justification. 1993.
  • Moral Knowledge and Ethical Character. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge. London: Routledge, 1998. Second edition: 2003.
  • Religious Commitment and Secular Reason. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • The Architecture of Reason: The Structure and Substance of Rationality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • The Good in the Right: A Theory of Intuition and Intrinsic Value. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.
  • Practical Reasoning and Ethical Decision. London: Routledge, 2006.
  • Moral Value and Human Diversity. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Business Ethics and Ethical Business. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Coauthored books and edited volumes

  • Rationality, religious belief, and moral commitment: new essays in the philosophy of religion (with William J. Wainwright). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986.
  • Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Second edition: 1999.
  • Religion in the Public Square: The Place of Religious Convictions in Public Debate (with Nicholas Wolterstorff). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997.
  • Rationality, rules, and ideals: critical essays on Bernard Gert's Moral Theory (with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.

Books about Audi's work

  • Timmons, Mark, John Greco, and Alfred R. Mele. Rationality and the Good: Critical Essays on the Ethics and Epistemology of Robert Audi. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005.

See also


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