An infinite regress
in a series of propositions arises if the truth of proposition P1
requires the support of proposition P2
, and for any proposition in the series Pn
, the truth of Pn
requires the support of the truth of Pn+1
. There would never be adequate support for P1
, because the infinite sequence
needed to provide such support could not be completed.
Distinction is made between infinite regresses that are "vicious" and those that are not. One definition given is that a vicious regress is "an attempt to solve a problem which re-introduced the same problem in the proposed solution. If one continues along the same lines, the initial problem will recur infinitely and will never be solved. Not all regresses, however, are vicious."
The infinite regress forms one of the three parts of the Münchhausen Trilemma.
Aristotle argued that knowing doesn't necessitate an infinite regress because some knowledge does not depend on demonstration:
Infinite regress in Consciousness
is the formation of an infinite series of "inner observers" as we ask the question of who is observing the output of the neural correlates of consciousness
in the study of subjective consciousness
Infinite regress in optics
is the formation of an infinite series of receding images created in two parallel