We revisit the issue of epistemological and semantic foundations for autoepistemic and default logics, two leading formalisms in nonmonotonic reasoning. We develop a general semantic approach to autoepistemic and default logics that is based on the notion of a belief pair and that exploits the lattice structure of the collection of all belief pairs. For each logic, we introduce a monotone operator on the lattice of belief pairs. We then show that a whole family of semantics can be defined in a systematic and principled way in terms of fixpoints of this operator (or as fixpoints of certain closely related operators). Our approach elucidates fundamental constructive principles in which agents form their belief sets, and leads to approximation semantics for autoepistemic and default logics. It also allows us to establish a precise one-to-one correspondence between the family of semantics for default logic and the family of semantics for autoepistemic logic. The correspondence exploits the modal interpretation of a default proposed by Konolige. Our results establish conclusively that default logic can be viewed as a fragment of autoepistemic logic, a result that has been long anticipated. At the same time, they explain the source of the difficulty to formally relate the semantics of default extensions by Reiter and autoepistemic expansions by Moore. These two semantics occupy different locations in the corresponding families of semantics for default and autoepistemic logics. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.