On the Global Ambitions of Phenomenal Conservatism

Analytic Philosophy (forthcoming)

Authors
Declan Smithies
Ohio State University
Abstract
What is the role of phenomenal consciousness in grounding epistemic justification? This paper explores the prospects for a global version of phenomenal conservatism inspired by the work of Michael Huemer, according to which all epistemic justification is grounded in phenomenal seemings. I’m interested in this view because of its global ambitions: it seeks to explain all epistemic justification in terms of a single epistemic principle, which says that you have epistemic justification to believe whatever seems to you strongly enough on balance to be true. One of the attractions of phenomenal conservatism is that it offers such a simple and unified framework for explaining the epistemic role of phenomenal consciousness. I will argue, however, that the simplicity of phenomenal conservatism is not a theoretical virtue, but a theoretical vice, since it distorts the epistemological phenomena it is supposed to explain. In effect, phenomenal conservatism seeks to explain all epistemic justification on the same model as perception. But this has the predictable effect of distorting the epistemology of other domains, including introspection, inference, and a priori justification.
Keywords Epistemic Justification  Phenomenal Consciousness  Phenomenal Conservatism  Seemings  Michael Huemer  Phenomenal Accessibilism
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DOI 10.1111/phib.12167
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Compassionate Phenomenal Conservatism.Michael Huemer - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):30–55.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
The Intellectual Given.John Bengson - 2015 - Mind 124 (495):707-760.
Why Open-Minded People Should Endorse Dogmatism.Chris Tucker - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):529-545.
Evidentialism.Richard Feldman & Earl Conee - 1985 - Philosophical Studies 48 (1):15 - 34.

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