Philosophical Intuition and the Need for an Explanation

Abstract

Traditionally, intuitions about cases have been taken as strong evidence for a philosophical position. I argue that intuitions about concept deployment have epistemic value while intuitions about matters of fact have none. I argue this by use of the explanationist criterion which contends that S is justified in believing only those propositions which are part of the best explanation of S’s making the judgements she makes. This criterion accords with scientific practice. Bealer suggests, as a defence of intuition, that naturalists rely on intuition in their arguments against intuition and thus that their arguments are self-undermining. But beliefs based on intuitions about the application of concepts, like ‘justification’ and ‘theory,’ are epistemically justified by the explanationist criterion. It is only intuitions about matters of fact which are rejected. Thus, epistemically-respectable intuitions about concepts are used to undermine intuitions about metaphysics. There is nothing self-undermining about this.

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Alexander S. Harper
University of Queensland

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