Direct realism with respect to perceptual experiences has two facets, an epistemological one and a metaphysical one. From the epistemological point of view it involves the claim that perceptual experiences provide immediatejustification. From the metaphysical point of view it involves the claim that in perceptual experience we enter into direct contact with items in the external world. In a more radical formulation, often associated with naive realism, the metaphysical conception of direct realism involves the idea that perceptual (...) experiences depend on the items in the external world they are related to. This paper describes a simple account that makes room for immediatejustification provided by perceptual experience. The simple account establishes an explanatory relation between the justificatory role of a perceptual experience and the fact that such an experience provides a reason for a belief. The account is evaluated in the light of some objections. Different ways to react to those objections are discussed. It will appear that in order to preserve the explanatory relation established by the simple account, one has to accept naive realism. By breaking the connection between reason and justification, on the other side, one jeopardizes the possibility for perceptual experience to deliver immediatejustification. (shrink)
As an important view in the epistemology of perception, dogmatism proposes that for any experience, if it has a distinctive kind of phenomenal character, then it thereby provides us with immediatejustification for beliefs about the external world. This paper rejects dogmatism by looking into the epistemology of imagining. In particular, this paper first appeals to some empirical studies on perceptual experiences and imaginings to show that it is possible for imaginings to have the distinctive phenomenal character dogmatists (...) have in mind. Then this paper argues that some of these imaginings fail to provide us with immediatejustification for beliefs about the external world at least partly due to their inappropriate etiology. Such imaginings constitute counterexamples to dogmatism. (shrink)
In this chapter I draw the conclusions of my investigation into phenomenal conservatism. I argue that phenomenal conservatism isn’t actually plagued by serious problems attributed to it by its opponents, but that it neither possesses all the epistemic merits that its advocates think it has. I suggest that phenomenal conservatism could provide a more satisfactory account of everyday epistemic practices and a more robust response to the sceptic if it were integrated with a theory of inferential justification. I also (...) identify questions and issues relevant to the assessment of phenomenal conservatism to be investigated in further research. (shrink)
In this chapter I introduce and analyse the tenets of phenomenal conservatism, and discuss the problem of the nature of appearances. After that, I review the asserted epistemic merits phenomenal conservatism and the principal arguments adduced in support of it. Finally, I survey objections to phenomenal conservatism and responses by its advocates. Some of these objections will be scrutinised and appraised in the next chapters.
This book examines phenomenal conservatism, one of the most influential and promising internalist conceptions of non-inferential justification debated in current epistemology and philosophy of mind. It also explores the significance of the findings of this examination for the general debate on epistemic justification. According to phenomenal conservatism, non-inferential justification rests on seemings or appearances, conceived of as experiences provided with propositional content. Phenomenal conservatism states that if it appears to S that P, in the absence of defeaters, (...) S thereby has some justification for believing that P. This view provides the basis for foundationalism and many ordinary epistemic practices. This book sheds new light on phenomenal conservatism by assessing objections to it and examining epistemological merits and advantages attributed to it. In a nutshell, phenomenal conservatism is actually compatible with Bayesian reasoning, and it is unaffected by bootstrapping problems and challenges that appeal to the cognitive penetrability of perception. Nevertheless, appearance-based justification proves unstable or elusive and its antisceptical bite is more limited than expected. These difficulties could be surmounted if phenomenal conservatism were integrated with a theory of inferential justification. The book appeals to scholars and postgraduates in the field of epistemology and philosophy of mind who are interested in the rational roles of appearances. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the relationship between consciousness and knowledge, and in particular on the role perceptual consciousness might play in justifying beliefs about the external world. We outline a version of phenomenal dogmatism according to which perceptual experiences immediately, prima facie justify certain select parts of their content, and do so in virtue of their having a distinctive phenomenology with respect to those contents. Along the way we take up various issues in connection with this core theme, including the (...) possibility of immediatejustification, the dispute between representational and relational views of perception, the epistemic significance of cognitive penetration, the question of whether perceptual experiences are composed of more basic sensations and seemings, and questions about the existence and epistemic significance of high-level content. In a concluding section we briefly consider how some of the topics pursued here might generalize beyond perception. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences justify. When I look at the black laptop in front of me and my perceptual experience presents me with a black laptop placed on my desk, my perceptual experience has justificatory force with respect to the proposition that there is black laptop on the desk. The present paper addresses the question of why perceptual experiences are a source of immediatejustification: What gives them their justificatory force? I shall argue that the most plausible and the most (...) straightforward answer to this question consists in what I call the phenomenological conception of perceptual justification. Perceptual experiences justify by virtue of their distinctive presentive phenomenology. This is a truly internalist conception that enjoys significant advantages over rival conceptions. In the course of his paper, I demonstrate the advantages of the phenomenological conception and defend it against a recent objection. (shrink)
First impressions suggest the following contrast between perception and memory: perception generates new beliefs and reasons, justification, or evidence for those beliefs; memory preserves old beliefs and reasons, justification, or evidence for those beliefs. In this paper, I argue that reflection on perceptual learning gives us reason to adopt an alternative picture on which perception plays both generative and preservative epistemic roles.
According to Jim Pryor’s dogmatism, when you have an experience with content p, you often have prima facie justification for believing p that doesn’t rest on your independent justification for believing any proposition. Although dogmatism has an intuitive appeal and seems to have an antisceptical bite, it has been targeted by various objections. This paper principally aims to answer the objections by Roger White according to which dogmatism is inconsistent with the Bayesian account of how evidence affects our (...) rational credences. If this were true, the rational acceptability of dogmatism would be seriously questionable. I respond that these objections don’t get off the ground because they assume that our experiences and our introspective beliefs that we have experiences have the same evidential force, whereas the dogmatist is uncommitted to this assumption. I also consider the question whether dogmatism has an antisceptical bite. I suggest that the answer turns on whether or not the Bayesian can determine the priors of hypotheses and conjectures on the grounds of their extra-empirical virtues. If the Bayesian can do so, the thesis that dogmatism has an antisceptical bite is probably false. (shrink)
We have several intuitive paradigms of defeating evidence. For example, let E be the fact that Ernie tells me that the notorious pet Precious is a bird. This supports the premise F, that Precious can fly. However, Orna gives me *opposing* evidence. She says that Precious is a dog. Alternatively, defeating evidence might not oppose Ernie's testimony in that direct way. There might be other ways for it to weaken the support that Ernie's testimony gives me for believing F, without (...) the new evidence itself intuitively constituting reasons to believe one way or the other about Precious's flight ability. An example: Ursula tells me that Ernie has no idea what Precious's species is; he's just guessing. She may not herself want to or be in a position to weigh in about Precious's real species or flight ability. I call defeating evidence of this sort *undermining evidence. (shrink)
ABSTRACTWhile Kant’s claim that the moral law discloses our freedom to us has been extensively discussed in recent decades, the reactions to this claim among Kant’s immediate successors have gone largely overlooked by scholars. Reinhold, Creuzer, and Maimon were among three prominent thinkers of the era unwilling to follow Kant in making the moral law the condition for knowing our freedom. Maimon went so far as to reject Kant’s method of appealing to our everyday awareness of duty on the (...) grounds that common human understanding is susceptible to error and illusion. In this paper I shall examine how these skeptical reactions to Kant’s position shaped the background for Fichte’s method of moral justification, leading up to his own deduction of the moral law in the System of Ethics. By way of conclusion, I shall propose a new interpretation of how consciousness of the moral law serves as an entry-point to Fichte’s form of idealism. (shrink)
I provide a novel knowledge-first account of justification that avoids the pitfalls of existing accounts while preserving the underlying insight of knowledge-first epistemologies: that knowledge comes first. The view I propose is, roughly, this: justification is grounded in our practical knowledge (know-how) concerning the acquisition of propositional knowledge (knowledge-that). I first refine my thesis in response to immediate objections. In subsequent sections I explain the various ways in which this thesis is theoretically superior to existing knowledge-first accounts (...) of justification. The upshot is a virtue-theoretic, knowledge-first view of justification that is internalist-friendly and able to explain more facts about justification than any other available view. (shrink)
According to a traditional Cartesian epistemology of perception, perception does not provide one with direct knowledge of the external world. Instead, your immediate perceptual evidence is limited to facts about your own visual experience, from which conclusions about the external world must be inferred. Cartesianism faces well-known skeptical challenges. But this chapter argues that any anti-Cartesian view strong enough to avoid these challenges must license a way of updating one’s beliefs in response to anticipated experiences that seems diachronically irrational. (...) To avoid this result, the anti-Cartesian must either license an unacceptable epistemic chauvinism, or else claim that merely reflecting on one’s experiences defeats perceptual justification. This leaves us with a puzzle: Although Cartesianism faces problems, avoiding them brings a new set of problems. (shrink)
Whether empirical givenness has the reliability that foundationalists expect is a point about which some philosophers are highly skeptical. Sellars took the doctrine of givenness as a “myth,” denying the existence of immediate perceptual experience. The arguments in contemporary Western epistemology are concentrated on whether sensory experience has conceptual contents, and whether there is any logical relationship between perceptions and beliefs. In fact, once the elements of words and conceptions in empirical perception are affirmed, the logical relationship between perceptual (...) experience and empirical belief is also affirmed. This relationship takes place through perceptual experience acting as evidence for beliefs. The real problem lies in how one should distinguish between the different relationships with perception of singular beliefs and of universal beliefs, and in how singular beliefs can provide justification for universal beliefs. (shrink)
A central project of traditional epistemology is to address skeptical questions and concerns regarding the rationality or epistemic justification of our empirical beliefs, especially beliefs regarding the external world, with the aim of understanding what makes it possible for such beliefs to have or lack justification, and of determining how much justification we have. A prominent anti-skeptical view in the history of epistemology, a view I shall call classical foundationalism, can be distinguished from other more contemporary versions (...) of foundationalism in part on the basis of two central commitments: (i) the traditional methodological commitment to carry out the project of addressing skepticism “from the armchair,” i.e., on the basis of what can be determined by a posteriori deliverances of introspection and a priori use of reason and reflection, without relying on empirical or scientific research that presupposes the existence of any external world of material objects (including armchairs); and (ii) a substantive commitment to the doctrine of the given, understood roughly as the view that empirical beliefs ultimately depend for their justification on a direct or immediate awareness of reasons to think these beliefs true, reasons simply “given” to us in conscious experience. -/- There has been a recent resurgence of interest in classical or “old-fashioned” varieties of foundationalism, and the debate seems, in some ways, to be repeating itself. Critics object that these attempted resurrections of classical foundationalism are just attempts to square the same old circles.”They argue that there are decisive or clearly sufficient reasons to deny that such a view can be right, let alone that an adequate theory can be developed that is defensible in all its essential details. I think that these critics are either missing the point of the traditional project, misunderstanding classical foundationalism, or exaggerating the severity of the problems they raise. -/- I will show that a number of common arguments against classical foundationalism are not nearly as worrisome as their proponents think. In Chapter 2, I defend classical foundationalism against the Sellarsian dilemma, and provide prima facie support from examples for the availability of foundational empirical beliefs. I then discuss some recent classical foundationalist accounts of the justification of foundational beliefs, argue that these accounts are less than satisfactory, and develop an account of my own. In Chapter 3 I defend classical foundationalism, as a version of internalism, against Bergmann’s recent dilemma for internalism. Finally, in Chapter 4, I take up the issue of skepticism about the external world, and, in closing, the related issue of whether any beliefs about the external world can themselves be empirically foundational. (shrink)
Solving the meta-problem of consciousness requires, among other things, explaining why we are so reluctant to endorse various forms of illusionism about the phenomenal. I will try to tackle this task in two steps. The first consists in clarifying how the concept of consciousness precludes the possibility of any distinction between 'appearance' and 'reality'. The second consists in spelling out our reasons for recognizing the existence of something that satisfies that concept.
Does the scope of beliefs that people can form on the basis of perception remain fixed, or can it be amplified with learning? The answer to this question is important for our understanding of why and when we ought to trust experts, and also for assessing the plausibility of epistemic foundationalism. The empirical study of perceptual expertise suggests that experts can indeed enrich their perceptual experiences through learning. Yet this does not settle the epistemic status of their beliefs. One might (...) hold that the background knowledge of experts is the cause of their enriched perceptual experience – what is known as cognitive permeation – and so their subsequent beliefs are only mediately justified because they are epistemically dependent on this background knowledge. I argue against this view. Perceptual expertise is not the result of cognitive permeation but is rather the result of perceptual learning, and perceptual learning does not involve cognition in a way that entails cognitive permeation. Perceptual expertise thus provides a means of widening the scope of the immediately justified beliefs that experts can form. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend Moorean Dogmatism against a novel objection raised by Adam Leite. Leite locates the defectiveness of the Moorean reasoning explicitly not in the failure of the Moorean argument to transmit warrant from its premises to its conclusion but rather in the failure of an epistemic agent to satisfy certain epistemic responsibilities that arise in the course of conscious and deliberate reasoning. I will first show that there exist cases of Moorean reasoning that are not put into (...) jeopardy by the considerations that Leite presents. Second, I will argue that certain commitments of Leite’s concerning the notion of warrant are in tension with his verdict that the Moorean reasoning is defective. (shrink)
This book is concerned with discovering the necessary and sufficient conditions for a person's being justified in believing propositions about the empirical world and for propositions about the empirical world being justified for a person. Within this context, the problem that serves as the focus for the book is "the epistemic regress problem." Briefly, the problem starts with the assumption that a person S is justified in believing that a proposition P1 is true because S is justified in believing that (...) proposition P1 is true and P1 entails P0. But what justifies S's belief that P1 is true? Moser suggests that there are at least four possible accounts of inferential justification: inferential justification via infinite regresses, inferential justification via justificatory circles of some sort, inferential justification via the unjustified and inferential justification via immediatejustification. Following his introductory chapter, where the parameters within which the discussion will proceed are concisely laid out, Moser considers the merits of each position before finally opting for a version of foundationalism he calls "epistemic intuitionism.". (shrink)
Whistleblowing is the act of disclosing information from a public or private organization in order to reveal cases of corruption that are of immediate or potential danger to the public. Blowing the whistle involves personal risk, especially when legal protection is absent, and charges of betrayal, which often come in the form of legal prosecution under treason laws. In this article we argue that whistleblowing is justified when disclosures are made with the proper intent and fulfill specific communicative constraints (...) in addressing issues of public interest. Three communicative constraints of informativeness, truthfulness and evidence are discussed in this regard. We develop a ‘harm test’ to assess the intent for disclosures, concluding that it is not sufficient for justification. Along with the proper intent, a successful act of whistleblowing should provide information that serves the public interest. Taking cognizance of the varied conceptions of public interest, we present an account of public interest that fits the framework of whistleblowing disclosures. In particular, we argue that whistleblowing is justified inter alia when the information it conveys is of a presumptive interest for a public insofar as it reveals an instance of injustice or violation of a civil or political right done against and unbeknown to some members of a polity. (shrink)
The notion of presentational phenomenology has powerful epistemological implications. According to Elijah Chudnoff, an experience has presentational phenomenology with respect to p insofar as that experience makes it seem to you that p, and makes it seem as if you are aware of a truth-maker for p. Chudnoff argues that only experiences that have presentational phenomenology with respect to p provide immediate prima facie justification to the belief that p. That is, my visual experience of the orange provides (...) me with defeasible justificatory grounds for believing that there is an orange by virtue of that experience possessing presentational phenomenology. Call this epistemological thesis presentationalism. The central purpose of this paper is to provide a novel analysis of presentational phenomenology, and determine whether it is capable of delivering the epistemic yield detailed above. Here, I endeavour to show the following: presentational phenomenology is neither sufficient nor necessary for immediate prima facie justification, and ambiguity in Chudnoff’s analysis of presentational phenomenology leads the account to a troubling dilemma. Seemings and seeming awareness of truth-makers are not plausible candidates for justification-conferring states. (shrink)
The paper discusses Sosa’s view of intuitional knowledge and raises the question of the nature of reflective justification of intuitional beliefs. It is assumed, in agreement with Sosa, that pieces of belief of good researchers are typically reflectively justified, in addition to being immediately, first-level justified. Sosa has convincingly argued that reflective justification typically mobilizes and indeed should mobilize capacities distinct from the original capacity that has produced the belief-candidate for being justified, in order to assess the reliability (...) of the original capacity. It has to go beyond justifiers that are of the same-kind as first-level immediate ones, in order to enlarge the circle of justification, and is, therefore, holistic and coherentist. But if this holds, it seems that reflective justifi cation of armchair beliefs, presumably produced by intuition and some reasoning, should revert to empirical considerations testifying to the reliability of intuition and reasoning. Therefore, it typically combines, in an articulated way, a posteriori elements contributing to the thinker’s reflective trust in her armchair capacities. In short, the paper argues that Sosa’s own view of second-order justification goes better with a more aposteriorist view, if it does not even force such a view. (shrink)
This paper argues that a fact which constitutes part of a subject’s being justified in adopting an action or a belief at a particular time need not be part of what induced the subject to adopt that action or belief but it must be something to which the subject had immediate access. It argues that similar points hold for justification of the involuntary acquisition of a belief and for the justification of continuing a belief (actively or dispositionally.).
This paper argues that a fact which constitutes part of a subject’s being justified in adopting an action or a belief at a particular time need not be part of what induced the subject to adopt that action or belief but it must be something to which the subject had immediate access. It argues that similar points hold for justification of the involuntary acquisition of a belief and for the justification of continuing a belief.
Immediate knowledge is here construed as true belief that does not owe its status as knowledge to support by other knowledge (or justified belief) of the same subject. The bulk of the paper is devoted to a criticism of attempts to show the impossibility of immediate knowledge. I concentrate on attempts by Wilfrid Sellars and Laurence Bonjour to show that putative immediate knowledge really depends on higher-level knowledge or justified belief about the status of the beliefs involved (...) in the putative immediate knowledge. It is concluded that their arguments are lacking in cogency. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that introspective beliefs about one’s own current visual experiences are not immediate in the sense that what justifies them does not include other beliefs that the subject in question might possess. The argument will take the following course. First, the author explains the notions of immediacy and truth-sufficiency as they are used here. Second, the author suggests a test to determine whether a given belief lacks immediacy. Third, the author applies this (...) test to a standard case of formation of an introspective belief about one’s own current visual experiences and concludes that the belief in question is neither immediate nor truth-sufficient. Fourth, the author rebuts several objections that might be raised against the argument. (shrink)
An overview of the epistemology of perception, covering the nature of justification, immediatejustification, the relationship between the metaphysics of perceptual experience and its rational role, the rational role of attention, and cognitive penetrability. The published version will contain a smaller bibliography, due to space constraints in the volume.
It may seem that when you have an emotional response to a perceived object or event that makes it seem to you that the perceived source of the emotion possesses some evaluative property, then you thereby have prima facie, immediatejustification for believing that the object or event possesses the evaluative property. Call this view ‘dogmatism about emotional justification’. We defend a view of the structure of emotional awareness according to which the objects of emotional awareness are (...) derived from other experiences such as bodily sensation, inner awareness, sensory perception, memory, and imagination. On this basis, we argue that dogmatism about emotional justification is an untenable position, regardless of whether the special feature of an immediate justifier that makes it an immediate justifier is its presentational phenomenology or its evidence insensitivity. (shrink)
The etiology of a perceptual belief can seemingly affect its epistemic status. There are cases in which perceptual beliefs seem to be unjustified because the perceptual experiences on which they are based are caused, in part, by wishful thinking, or irrational prior beliefs. It has been argued that this is problematic for many internalist views in the epistemology of perception, especially those which postulate immediate perceptual justification. Such views are unable to account for the impact of an experience’s (...) etiology on its justificational status, McGrath, Siegel, and Vahid ). Our understanding of what we have been told can also be affected by, for example, wishful thinking or irrational background beliefs. I argue that testimonial beliefs based on such states of understanding can thus be rendered unjustified. This is problematic not only for internalist immediatejustification views of testimony, but also for some externalist views, such as the form of proper functionalism endorsed by Burge, and Graham. The testimonial version of the argument from etiology, unlike the perceptual variant, does not rest on the controversial hypothesis that perception is cognitively penetrable. Furthermore, there is a stronger case for the claim that testimonial justification can be undermined by etiological effects since, I argue, testimonial beliefs can be based on the background mental states which affect our understanding of what is said, and our states of understanding are rationally assessable. (shrink)
Epistemic Sentimentalism is the view that emotional experiences such as fear and guilt are a source of immediatejustification for evaluative beliefs. For example, guilt can sometimes immediately justify a subject’s belief that they have done something wrong. In this paper I focus on a family of objections to Epistemic Sentimentalism that all take as a premise the claim that emotions possess a normative property that is apparently antithetical to it: epistemic reason-responsiveness, i.e., emotions have evidential bases and (...) justifications can be demanded of them. I respond to these objections whilst granting that emotions are reason-responsive. This is not only dialectically significant vis-à-vis the prospects for Epistemic Sentimentalism, but also supports a broader claim about the compatibility of a mental item’s being reason-responsive and its being a generative source of epistemic justification. (shrink)
Experiences justify beliefs about our environment. Sometimes the justification is immediate: seeing a red light immediately justifies believing there is a red light. Other times the justification is mediate: seeing a red light justifies believing one should brake in a way that is mediated by background knowledge of traffic signals. How does this distinction map onto the distinction between what is and what isn't part of the content of experience? Epistemic egalitarians think that experiences immediately justify whatever (...) is part of their content. Epistemic elitists deny this and think that there is some further constraint the contents of experience must satisfy to be immediately justified. Here I defend epistemic elitism, propose a phenomenological account of what the further constraint is, and explore the resulting view's consequences for our knowledge of other minds, and in particular for perceptual theories of this knowledge. (shrink)
The idea that emotional experience is capable of lending immediate and defeasible justification to evaluative belief has been amassing significant support in recent years. The proposal that it is my anger, say, that justifies my belief that I’ve been wronged putatively provides us with an intuitive and naturalised explanation as to how we receive epistemic justification for a rich catalogue of our evaluative beliefs. However, despite the fact that this justificatory thesis of emotion is fundamentally an epistemological (...) proposal, comparatively little has been done to explicitly isolate what it is about emotions that bestows them with justificatory ability. The purpose of this paper is to provide a novel and thorough analysis into the prospects of phenomenology-based—or dogmatist—views of emotional justification. By surveying and rejecting various instantiations of the emotional dogmatist view, I endeavour to provide an inductive case for the conclusion that emotional phenomenology cannot be the seat of the emotions’ power to immediately justify evaluative belief. (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)
A novel solution is offered for how emotional experiences can function as sources of immediate prima facie justification for evaluative beliefs, and in such a way that suffices to halt a justificatory regress. Key to this solution is the recognition of two distinct kinds of emotional skill (what I call generative emotional skill and doxastic emotional skill) and how these must be working in tandem when emotional experience plays such a justificatory role. The paper has two main parts, (...) the first negative and the second positive. The negative part criticises the epistemic credentials of Epistemic Perceptualism (e.g., Tappolet 2012, 2016; Doring 2003, 2007; Elgin 2008; Roberts 2003), the view that emotional experience alone suffices to prima facie justify evaluative beliefs in a way that is analogous to how perceptual experience justifies our beliefs about the external world. The second part of the paper develops an account of emotional skill and uses this account to frame a revisionary form of Epistemic Perceptualism that succeeds where the traditional views could not. I conclude by considering some objections and replies. (shrink)
A subject S's belief that Q is well-grounded if and only if it is based on a reason of S that gives S propositional justification for Q. Depending on the nature of S's reason, the process whereby S bases her belief that Q on it can vary. If S's reason is non-doxastic––like an experience that Q or a testimony that Q––S will need to form the belief that Q as a spontaneous and immediate response to that reason. If (...) S's reason is doxastic––like a belief that P––S will need to infer her belief that Q from it. The distinction between these two ways in which S's beliefs can be based on S's reasons is widely presupposed in current epistemology but––we argue in this paper––is not exhaustive. We give examples of quite ordinary situations in which a well-grounded belief of S appears to be based on S's reasons in neither of the ways described above. To accommodate these recalcitrant cases, we introduce the notion of enthymematic inference and defend the thesis that S can base a belief that Q on doxastic reasons P1, P2, …, Pn via inferring enthymematically Q from P1, P2, …, Pn. (shrink)
Nelson's Proof of the Impossibility of the Theory of Knowledge -/- In addressing the possibility of a theory of knowledge, Leonard Nelson noted the contradiction of an epistemological criterion that one would require in order to differentiate between valid and invalid knowledge. Nelson concluded that the inconsistency of such a criterion proves the impossibility of the theory of knowledge. -/- Had the epistemological criterion had a perception, then it would presume to adjudicate on its own truth (thus epistemological circular argument). (...) However, if one were to assume that the criterion is not knowledge, one would then have to justify how this is a criterion for truth - yet this would only be possible when it may be considered as an object of knowledge. One would equally have had to predetermine the criterion in order to determine the truth of this knowledge, thereby providing another circular argument. Ostensibly, every criterion of truth fails at its very own test since it cannot guarantee its own truth, just as Munchausen, contrary to his assertion, could not draw himself out of the swamp by tugging on a tuft of his own hair. -/- Nelson proposed a solution of the epistemological problem (the question of the differentiation between valid and invalid knowledge), that based on Jakob Friedrich Fries' differentiation between proof and deduction. Proof, according to Nelson (in reference to Fries), can be defined as derivation of truth from one statement from another statement. Thus, from the truth in the statement that "all men are mortal", one is then able to say that "Socrates is a man" and thence extrapolate from the truth of the statement that "Socrates is mortal." If knowledge were to be considered somewhat judgmental (in a statement), then an attempt at proof (i.e. recourse to previous judgments) would inevitably lead to an infinite regression in justification, since each judgment would necessitate a further justification from another judgment. Every attempt to prove an epistemological criterion is thus also confronted by this regression in justification. -/- Nelson's attempt at a solution rests on the assumption of the existence of an immediate knowledge as a justification of the truth (mediate) of knowledge. Nelson considers immediate knowledge to be non-judgmental knowledge. These include intuitions (e. g. seeing-the-red-roof) and also philosophical knowledge that pre-exists in his opinion before a judgmental reflexion (immediate) in our reason (e. g. the principle of causality). -/- Proof of the truth of mediate knowledge can be effected by showing its compliance with attendant immediate knowledge (rational truth = correspondence of mediate knowledge with their immediate knowledge). Nelson considered this as a resolution of the circular epistemological argument. In regard to philosophical knowledge, Nelson sees these as subject to deduction and not proof. The following example illustrates the goal of deduction: -/- An approach for deducing the principle of causality: A) Every change has a cause. (The principle of causality) A´) A is a reiteration of an immediate knowledge. (Meta-assertion following A) -/- "A" may not be provable, but A´ may justified, and thus Nelson identified it as a deduction following from A. // reference: http://www.friesian.com/nelproof.htm. (shrink)
PART I The first chapter contains some arguments in favour of four general requirements on a theory of meaning which Michael Dummett has formulated: connection between meaning and understanding, distinction between sense and force, compositionality, and manifestability. The second chapter contains a condensed account of the theory of meaning centered on bivalent truth-conditions, and a detailed analysis of Dummett's argument against such a theory and against classical logic. The third chapter is a description of Dummett's theory of meaning centered on (...) the notion of direct verification, and of Prawitz's semantics which can be embedded in the latter theory of meaning so as to justify intuitionistic logic. The weakest points of Dummett's idea are two: 1) it is difficult to make verificationism compatible with the holistic character of justification; 2) logical revisionism may involve a too drastic disagreement between verificationism and linguistic practice. -/- PART II. The second part contains a presentation of a theory of meaning centered on the notion which I have called immediate argumental role. The fundamental idea of the theory is that the sense of a word is given by all the argumentation rules concerning the word. Chapters IV-VII make precise the basic idea by explaining the notion of "argumentation rule" and by defining the notion of "concerning", and other notions among which "immediate argumental role of a sentence" and "global argumental role". Chapters VIII-X deal with the main philosophical features of the theory: 1) the theory satisfies the four requirements considered in the first chapter; 2) despite its compositionality, the theory is compatible with epistemological holism; 3) the theory admits the possibility of meaningful paradoxical languages; 4) the theory distinguishes between the understandability of a language and its correctness in a given epistemic situation (understandability does not imply correctness); 5) the theory is pluralist with respect to the understandability of different logics and neutral with respect to their validity. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper I suggest that Dogmatism about perceptual justification – the view that in the most basic cases, perceptual justification is immediate – commits to rejecting Evidentialism, as it commits, specifically, to accounting for the mechanics of perceptual justification otherwise than by maintaining that perceptual experiences justify by providing evidence. In the second part of the paper, by following W. Hopp’s recent interpretation of Husserl’s Sixth Logical Investigation, I suggest that Husserl’s (...) theory of fulfilment provides the basis of the non-evidential account of the mechanics of perceptual justification needed to vindicate Dogmatism. (shrink)
The internalism-externalism debate is one of the oldest debates in epistemology. Internalists assert that the justification of our beliefs can only depend on facts internal to us, while externalists insist that justification can depend on additional, for example environmental, factors. Clayton Littlejohn proposes and defends a new strategy for resolving this debate. Focussing on the connections between practical and theoretical reason, he explores the question of whether the priority of the good to the right might be used to (...) defend an epistemological version of consequentialism, and proceeds to formulate a new 'deontological externalist' view. On this view, the justificatory status of a belief depends upon whether it is fit for the purposes of practical reasoning. Only beliefs that meet externalist standards are fit for such a purpose. If we want to understand how a wide range of norms (e.g., moral norms) apply to rational agents regardless of what their evidence or outlook is like, we have to embrace an externalist account of the justification. (shrink)
Husserl claims that his phenomenological–epistemological system amounts to a “universal” form of empiricism. The present paper shows that this universal moment of Husserl’s empiricism is why his empiricism qualifies as a rationalism. What is empiricist about Husserl’s phenomenological–epistemological system is that he takes experiences to be an autonomous source of immediatejustification. On top of that, Husserl takes experiences to be the ultimate source of justification. For Husserl, every justified belief ultimately depends epistemically on the subject’s experiences. (...) These are paradigms of empiricist claims and thus Husserl seems to subscribe to empiricism. However, what is universal about Husserl’s “empiricism” is that he does not limit the concept of experiences to sensory experiences or sensory experiences plus introspective intuitions but broadens the concept of experience such that also a priori intuitions are included. Husserl insists that logical, mathematical, and phenomenological intuitions such as ~, 2 + 2 = 4, and “Experiences necessarily bear the mark of intentionality” provide non-inferential justification analogous to how sensory experiences can non-inferentially justify beliefs such as “There is a table in front of me.” Importantly, Husserl makes clear that such a priori intuitions are not about our concepts but about reality. This is why Husserl’s universal empiricism is a rationalism. Husserl differs from traditional rationalism as he allows that a priori intuitions can be fallible and empirically underminable. This distinguishes Husserl’s rationalism from Descartes’ and makes him a proponent of moderate rationalism as currently championed by Laurence BonJour. (shrink)
Liberals claim that some perceptual experiences give us immediatejustification for certain perceptual beliefs. Conservatives claim that the justification that perceptual experiences give us for those perceptual beliefs is mediated by our background beliefs. In his recent paper ?Basic Justification and the Moorean Response to the Skeptic?, Nico Silins successfully argues for a non-Moorean version of Liberalism. But Silins's defence of non-Moorean Liberalism leaves us with a puzzle: why is it that a necessary condition for our (...) perceptual experiences to justify us in holding certain perceptual beliefs is that we have some independent justification for disbelieving various sceptical hypotheses? I argue that the best answer to this question involves commitment to Crispin Wright's version of Conservatism. In short, Wright's Conservatism is consistent with Silins's Liberalism, and the latter helps to give us grounds for accepting the former. (shrink)
Perceptual appearances of personality can be highly inaccurate, for example, when they rely on race, masculinity, and attractiveness, factors that have little to do with personality, as well as when they are the result of perceiver effects, such as an idiosyncratic tendency to view others negatively. This raises the question of whether these types of appearances can provide immediatejustification for our judgments about personality. I argue that there are three reasons that we should think that they can. (...) The inaccuracy of these types of appearances is not nearly as widespread as it may initially seem. Even thin-slicing in zero-acquaintance conditions seems to reliably track many personality traits. The thought that perceptual appearances of personality can justify our beliefs only in conjunction with background information rests on a failure to acknowledge the existence of genuine high-level perceptual appearances of personality. Perceiver effect cases are not unlike cases in which we have inaccurate low-level perceptual appearances in unfavorable perceptual conditions. (shrink)