When in the business of offering an account of the epistemic normativity of belief, one is faced with the following dilemma: strongly externalist norms fail to account for the intuition of justification in radical deception scenarios, while milder norms are incapable to explain what is epistemically wrong with false beliefs. This paper has two main aims; we first look at one way out of the dilemma, defended by Timothy Williamson and Clayton Littlejohn, and argue that it fails. Second, we identify (...) what we take to be the problematic assumption that underlies their account and offer an alternative way out. We put forth a knowledge-first friendly normative framework for belief which grants justification to radically deceived subjects while at the same time acknowledging that their false beliefs are not epistemically good beliefs. (shrink)
Phenomenalist dogmatist experientialism (PDE) holds the following thesis: if $S$ has a perceptual experience that $p$ , then $S$ has immediate prima facie evidential justification for the belief that $p$ in virtue of the experience’s phenomenology. The benefits of PDE are that it (a) provides an undemanding view of perceptual justification that allows most of our ordinary perceptual beliefs to be justified, and (b) accommodates two important internalist intuitions, viz. the New Evil Demon Intuition and the Blindsight Intuition. However, in (...) the face of a specific version of the Sellarsian dilemma, PDE is ad hoc. PDE needs to explain what is so distinct about perceptual experience that enables it to fulfill its evidential role without being itself in need of justification. I argue that neither an experience’s presentational phenomenology, nor its phenomenal forcefulness can be used to answer this question, and that prospects look dim for any other phenomenalist account. The subjective distinctness of perceptual experience might instead just stem from a higher-order belief that the experience is a perceptual one, but this will only serve to strengthen the case for externalism: externalism is better suited to provide an account of how we attain justified higher-order beliefs and can use this account to accommodate the Blindsight Intuition. (shrink)
The phenomenon of cognitive penetration has received a lot of attention in recent epistemology, as it seems to make perceptual justification too easy to come by for experientialist theories of justification. Some have tried to respond to this challenge by arguing that cognitive penetration downgrades the epistemic status of perceptual experience, thereby diminishing its justificatory power. I discuss two examples of this strategy, and argue that they fail on several grounds. Most importantly, they fail to realize that cognitive penetration is (...) just an instance of a larger problem for experientialist theories of perceptual justification. The challenge does not lie in explaining how cognitive penetration is able to downgrade the epistemic status of perceptual experience, the challenge lies in explaining why perceptual experience would have a special epistemic status to begin with. To answer this challenge, experientialists have to solve the distinctiveness problem: they have to explain what is so distinctive about perceptual experience that enables it to provide evidential justification without being in need of justification itself. Unfortunately, an internalist answer to this problem does not appear to be forthcoming, even though it would certainly help with explaining the problem of cognitive penetration. (shrink)
Perceptual Dogmatism holds that if it perceptually seems to S that p, then S has immediate prima facie justification for the belief that p. Various philosophers have made the notion of a perceptual seeming more precise by distinguishing perceptual seemings from both sensations and beliefs to accommodate a) the epistemic difference between perceptual judgments of novices and experts, and, b) the problem of the speckled hen. Using somewhat different terminology, perceptual seemings are supposed to be high-level percepts instead of low-level (...) sensations. I argue that although it is right that perceptual seemings should not be identified with sensations, they should also not be identified with percepts. There is no strong reason to assume that sensations and percepts exist as separate conscious states, and it appears therefore best to identify perceptual seemings simply with perceptual experiences interpreted as entities incorporating aspects from both sensations and percepts. However, even with this plausible identification in hand, the speckled hen will remain problematic for PD. (shrink)
This book provides an accessible and up-to-date discussion of contemporary theories of perceptual justification that each highlight different factors related to perception, i.e., conscious experience, higher-order beliefs, and reliable processes. The book’s discussion starts from the viewpoint that perception is not only one of our fundamental sources of knowledge and justification, but also plays this role for many less sophisticated animals. It proposes a scientifically informed reliabilist theory which can accommodate this fact without denying that some of our epistemic abilities (...) as human perceivers are special. This allows it to combine many of our intuitions about the importance of conscious experience and higher-order belief with the controversial thesis that perceptual justification is fundamentally non-evidential in character. (shrink)
Duncan Pritchard has defended a version of epistemological disjunctivism which holds that in a paradigmatic case of perceptual knowledge, one knows that \ in virtue of having the reflectively accessible reason that one sees that \. This view faces what is known as the basis problem: if seeing that \ just is a way of knowing that \, then that one sees that \ cannot constitute the rational basis in virtue of which one knows that \. To solve this problem, (...) Pritchard has argued that seeing that \ should be reduced to being in a good position to know that \ rather than simply knowing that \. I argue that this proposal can only be properly understood if the concept of knowledge is taken as primitive, and is supported by an example that either fails to favor it over the alternative, or else backfires against the proposal itself. This leaves the new account of seeing that \ unmotivated, thereby challenging the purported answer to the basis problem. (shrink)
Predictive processing accounts of perception assume that perception does not work in a purely bottom-up fashion but also uses acquired knowledge to make top-down predictions about the incoming sensory signals. This provides a challenge for foundationalist accounts of perception according to which perceptual beliefs are epistemically basic, that is, epistemically independent from other beliefs. If prior beliefs rationally influence which perceptual beliefs we come to accept, then foundationalism about perception appears untenable. I review several ways in which foundationalism might be (...) reconciled with PP from both an internalist and externalist perspective, and argue that an externalist foundationalism provides the best match with PP. (shrink)
Two different versions of epistemological disjunctivism have recently been upheld in the literature: a traditional, Justified True Belief Epistemological Disjunctivism (JTBED) and a Knowledge First Epistemological Disjunctivism (KFED). JTBED holds that factive reasons of the form “S sees that p” provide the rational support in virtue of which one has perceptual knowledge, while KFED holds that factive reasons of the form “S sees that p” just are ways of knowing that p which additionally provide justification for believing that p. We (...) argue that both accounts remain ultimately unsatisfactory. JTBED faces two formidable problems: first, it cannot account for animal knowledge, and, second, it does not offer a satisfactory account of how we access factive reasons. Although KFED can solve these two problems, it has some problems of its own. While intuitively knowledge is logically stronger than justified belief, on KFED it turns out to be weaker: knowledge does not entail justified belief, but justified belief does entail knowledge. Nevertheless, disjunctivists are right on at least a couple of points: we standardly justify our perceptual beliefs by appealing to factive reasons such as seeing that p and so factive reasons ought to play some role in our theory of justification. In addition, KFED’s account of our access to factive reasons also is spot on. Rather than going disjunctivist, these insights can be suitably incorporated into a Knowledge First Virtue Epistemology (KFVE). (shrink)
The cases of Norman the Clairvoyant and Mr. Truetemp form classic counterexamples to the process reliabilist's claim that reliability is sufficient for prima facie justification. I discuss several ways in which contemporary reliabilists have tried to deal with these counterexamples, and argue that they are all unsuccessful. Instead, I propose that the most promising route lies with an appeal to a specific kind of higher-order defeat that is best cashed out in terms of properly functioning monitoring mechanisms.
In her book The Rationality of Perception, Susanna Siegel argues for the interesting idea that perceptual experiences are in an important epistemic sense much more like beliefs than has previously been supposed. Like beliefs, perceptual experiences themselves already manifest a certain epistemic status, and, like beliefs, the way in which those experiences are formed will impact what that epistemic status will be. In what follows, I will first contrast this view of the rationality of perception with the usual way of (...) thinking about perception and justification and explain some of its crucial motivations (§1). I will then go on to critically discuss some of the details of Siegel’s account about what grounds the epistemic status of experience (§2) and how that status is inferentially modulated (§3). Although this raises some doubts about the specific way in which Siegel cashes out the rationality of perception, the core idea remains an interesting open possibility. (shrink)
What attitude does someone manifesting implicit bias really have? According to the default representationalist picture, implicit bias involves having conflicting attitudes (explicit versus implicit) with respect to the topic at hand. In opposition to this orthodoxy, dispositionalists argue that attitudes should be understood as higher-level dispositional features of the person as a whole. Following this metaphysical view, the discordance characteristic of implicit bias shows that someone’s attitude regarding the topic at hand is not-fully-manifested or ‘in-between’. However, so far few representationalists (...) have been convinced by dispositionalist arguments, largely because dispositionalism cannot provide explanations in terms of underlying processes. We argue that if dispositionalism wants to be a genuine contender, it should make clear what it has to offer in terms of understanding of implicit bias. As a concrete proposal, we combine dispositionalist metaphysics with the idea that our normative practices of attitude ascription partly determine what it means to have an attitude. We show that such regulative dispositionalism can account for two prominent normative features of implicit bias. We conclude by suggesting that in order to engage in a meaningful debate with representationalism, dispositionalists might have to put the question ‘what counts as a good explanation?’ back on the table. (shrink)
Many philosophers take experience to be an essential aspect of perceptual justification. I argue against a specific variety of such an experientialist view, namely, the Looks View of perceptual justification, according to which our visual beliefs are mediately justified by beliefs about the way things look. I describe three types of cases that put pressure on the idea that perceptual justification is always related to looks-related reasons: unsophisticated cognizers, multimodal identification, and amodal completion. I then provide a tentative diagnosis of (...) what goes wrong in the Looks View: it ascribes a specific epistemic role to beliefs about looks that is actually fulfilled by subpersonal perceptual processes. (shrink)
This thesis mounts an attack against accounts of perceptual justification that attempt to analyze it in terms of evidential justifiers, and has defended the view that perceptual justification should rather be analyzed in terms of non-evidential justification. What matters most to perceptual justification is not a specific sort of evidence, be it experiential evidence or factive evidence, what matters is that the perceptual process from sensory input to belief output is reliable. I argue for this conclusion in the following way. (...) Chapter 1: The Arguments from HallucinationChapter 1 presents a skeptical argument from hallucination that starts from a premise about the alleged introspective indistinguishability of perception and hallucination, and concludes that perceptual knowledge is impossible. Underlying this argument are certain assumptions about the nature of perceptual justification, and different responses to the argument portray different views of perceptual justification. Evidentialism and dogmatism both reject the premise that appearances do not provide evidence sufficient for perceptual knowledge, although they disagree about the precise nature of the appearances. Epistemological disjunctivism rejects the premise that introspectively indistinguishable experiences provide the same evidence, while upholding the idea that some sort of evidence, namely factive evidence, is necessary for perceptual justification and knowledge. Process reliabilism rejects the premise that evidence is necessary for perceptual knowledge on the grounds that even perceptual justification can be obtained without evidence, as long as the cognitive process producing the belief is reliable.Chapter 2: EvidentialismChapter 2 starts by introducing some motivations for experientialist views of perceptual justification, such as evidentialism and dogmatism, which hold that conscious experiences evidentially justify perceptual beliefs. These motivations have to do with their ability to accommodate the New Evil Demon Intuition that demon-deceived subjects have justified perceptual beliefs and the Blindsight Intuition that blindsighters do not have justified perceptual beliefs. However, experientialist views are also faced with a Sellarsian dilemma: either experience is construed as non-propositional, but then the proposed evidential relation is unclear, or experience is construed as propositional, but then it is ad hoc to hold that they can evidentially justify without being justified themselves.Chapter 2 continues with a discussion of evidentialism, which grasps the first horn of this dilemma. I argue that evidentialism cannot adequately explain why a non-propositional experience constitutes evidence for this rather than that belief, and also does not provide any account of how to determine which belief fits an evidence-set which partly consists out of non-propositional experiences. Although a reliabilist version of evidentialism can provide a better account of these matters, it suffers from counter-intuitive predictions about justification and a conception of evidence that is so liberal that it could even include blindsighters and clairvoyants as having such evidence.Chapter 3: DogmatismChapter 3 focuses on variants of dogmatism, a theory of perceptual justification that grasps the second horn of the Sellarsian dilemma by holding that a perceptual experience with the content that p is sufficient for immediate prima facie justification of the belief that p. I first argue that dogmatism should identify perceptual experiences with high-level conscious states to accommodate the problem of novice vs. expert identification and the problem of the speckled hen. I then argue that this version of dogmatism still fails to meet a certain explanatory challenge which I dub the `Distinctiveness Problem'. Dogmatism should explain what is so distinctive about perceptual experience that enables it, in contrast with desire and imagination, to evidentially justify the belief that p without, in contrast with belief, being justified itself.Phenomenalist answers to this problem fail because they either do not provide a distinctive property of perceptual experience, or else provide a property that is reducible to or possibly caused by beliefs. In both cases, dogmatism would have the result that intuitively unjustifying experiences, such as imaginations, nevertheless become capable of justifying beliefs. Moreover, phenomenalists still need some explanation of why phenomenology is epistemically relevant at all.A new variant of the problem of the speckled hen is an intuitive illustration of this point against dogmatists. If a perceptual experience that p is not reliably connected to the fact that p or the belief that p, then beliefs based on this experience simply will not be intuitively justified. One possible response to this problem incorporates reliability into the content of experience in the sense that an experience cannot have the content that p if it is not reliably connected to both the fact that p and the belief that p. However, this will lose the motivation from the New Evil Demon Scenario, and will make large concessions towards reliabilism.Chapter 4: Epistemological DisjunctivismGiven these problems for experientialist views of perceptual justification, chapter 4 focuses on a different evidential account of justification: epistemological disjunctivism. According to the Justified True Belief version of Epistemological Disjunctivism, the fact that I see that p is the factive and reflectively accessible evidence in virtue of which I know that p. I argue that JTBED faces formidable problems: first, it cannot adequately deal with the basis problem, second, it cannot accommodate the New Evil Demon Intuition, third,it faces the problem of hyper-intellectualization, and fourth, it has no good account of reflective access.Knowledge First Epistemological Disjunctivism, in contrast, holds that seeing that p just is a way of knowing that p. The fact that I see that p constitutes my justification for believing that p, even though it is not necessary for my knowledge that p. Although this view solves most of the above problems, I argue that KFED still faces a challenge of its own: its notion of justification is so strong that justification entails knowledge but is not itself entailed by it. This means that it too faces a hyper-intellectualization objection because it cannot accommodate animal justification, and that it too will struggle to accommodate the New Evil Demon Intuition.Nevertheless, there is something to the epistemological disjunctivist idea that higher-order capabilities are important to perceptual justification. Specifically, higher-order capabilities provide one with a way of accommodating the Blindsight Intuition without appealing to the notion of experiential evidence: blindsighters are epistemically worse off than normal human perceivers because they lack higher-order beliefs about how they are gaining their information. If one holds that these higher-order beliefs provide a special sort of justification for perceptual beliefs, then blindsighters lack this type of justification. Chapter 5: Process ReliabilismAfter displaying the problems of several evidential accounts of perceptual justification, chapter 5 introduces a non-evidential account: process reliabilism. The classic version of this view holds that the reliability of a belief-forming process is necessary and sufficient for the prima facie justification of a specific set of beliefs, namely, those that arise out of belief-independent processes. Two classic major problems for this view consist of counterexamples to both the necessity and sufficiency of reliability for justification. Although the Generality Problem raises some difficulties for reliabilism, they do not appear to be insurmountable.The second part of chapter 5 focuses on a variety of process reliabilism, inferentialist reliabilism, that is explicitly aimed at responding to clairvoyance cases. According to inferentialist reliabilism, one should distinguish between basic and non-basic beliefs, where basic beliefs are those that result out of the non-inferential operation of an inferentially opaque cognitive system that developed in a natural way. Reliability is only sufficient for the justification of basic beliefs, while non-basic beliefs also require conditional reliability and justification of the beliefs on which they are based.This distinction between basic and non-basic beliefs is meant to answer the challenge arising out of clairvoyance cases because these are all supposedly cases in which the resulting beliefs arenon-basic. However, I argue that the beliefs in these cases come out as non-basic primarily because of the etiological constraint on cognitive systems, a constraint that is unfortunately undermotivated. It seems that beliefs can be justified even if they are produced by a cognitive system that developed by accident, or by a system that was artificially designed to produce those beliefs. So even though the inferentialist reliabilist might have a point in distinguishing between basic and non-basic beliefs, it is still in need of a different response to clairvoyance cases. Chapter 6: Rejoinders for ReliabilismChapter 6 improves on the inferentialist reliabilist account of justification by presenting a different way of dealing with the clairvoyance cases and New Evil Demon Scenario. I start from the empirically plausible idea that we know that we are perceiving when we are perceiving, not because of the use of experiential evidence, but rather, because of an unconscious source-monitoring mechanism. I then argue that the existence of such a source-monitoring mechanism could be used to explain why clairvoyance cases actually have to do with defeat rather than absence of prima facie justification: beliefs that pop up in our head should be recognized as stemming from untrustworthy sources, and so we acquire defeating higher-order beliefs about the first-order beliefs. I also argue that this defeat should be able to occur even if the higher-order beliefs are themselves unjustified. This defeater-account of clairvoyance is preferable to several externalist alternatives. Making reliability relative to a specific world seems rather ad hoc, and further requirements on justification, such as evidence-based belief, cognitively integrated belief, or properly produced belief, all appear unnecessary and are susceptible to adapted versions of the clairvoyance case.I further argue for an alternative inferentialist reliablist response to the New Evil Demon Intuition which treats it as mistaken rather than correct. The New Evil Demon Intuition might arise because of a mistaken view of actual perceptual justification as having to do with experiential evidence. This mistaken view could be explained by the fact that experience is actually reliably connected to belief and is often cited in response to a knowledge-challenge. If this is a correct analysis of the New Evil Demon Intuition, then there is an element of question-begging involved when this scenario is still pressed against inferentialist reliabilists who do not adhere to the experientialist assumption it presupposes.With the inferentialist reliabilist account in hand,we are able to see that many of the premises of the epistemological argument from hallucination are problematic. Evidence does not appear to be required for perceptual knowledge, as perceptual justification does not even require such evidence. Moreover, if we accept a reliabilist model of introspection, then we are often able to know on the basis of introspection that we are perceiving rather than hallucinating. Once one gets clear about the alternatives, it becomes apparent that the argument thrives on internalist assumptions about justification and knowledge that one need not accept. (shrink)
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According to pluralistic folk psychology (PFP) we make use of a variety of methods to predict and explain each other, only one of which makes use of attributing propositional attitudes. I discuss three related problems for this view: first, the prediction problem, according to which (some of) PFP’s methods of prediction only work if they also assume a tacit attribution of propositional attitudes; second, the interaction problem, according to which PFP cannot explain how its different methods of prediction and explanation (...) can interact; and third, the difference problem, according to which PFP cannot explain how all of its methods are truly different if it also assumes a dispositionalist account of belief. I argue that a promising solution to these problems should not overestimate the importance and ubiquity of propositional attitude attribution even if the difference between propositional attitude attribution and other types of attribution is a matter of degree rather than kind. Instead, a solution should be sought in a better appreciation of the breadth of folk psychological theorizing and the way in which this can be incorporated into model theory. (shrink)
According to Jeanne Peijnenburg having an infinite chain of justification isn't in principle incompatible with having a justified belief at the end of this chain. I argue that, as long as we're talking about human knowledge and justification, infinite chains of justification remain problematic.
Most internalist views hold that experience provides evidential justification for perceptual belief, although there are different ideas about how experience is able to provide this justification. Evidentialism holds that experiences can act as evidence for belief without having propositional content, while dogmatism holds that only an experience with the content that p can provide prima facie justification for the belief that p. I argue that both views succumb to a version of the well-known Sellarsian dilemma: it’s entirely unclear how an (...) experience could act as evidence for belief without having propositional content, and it is ad hoc to claim that experiences with propositional content can act as evidence for belief without explaining why these experiences need not be justified themselves. The way out of the dilemma lies in accepting the non-evidential nature of perceptual experience. (shrink)