Phenomenal conservatism and the problem of reflective awareness

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Abstract

This paper criticizes phenomenal conservatism––the view according to which a
subject S’s seeming that P provides S with defeasible justification for believing P. It argues that phenomenal conservatism, if true at all, has a significant limitation: seeming-based justification is elusive because S can easily lose it by just reflecting on her seemings and speculating about their causes. The paper also argues that because of this limitation, phenomenal conservatism doesn’t have all the epistemic merits attributed to it by its advocates. If true, phenomenal conservatism constitutes a unified theory of epistemic justification capable of giving everyday epistemic practices a rationale, but it doesn’t afford us the means of an effective response to the sceptic. Furthermore, phenomenal conservatism doesn’t form the general basis for foundationalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-280
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Philosophical Quarterly
Volume55
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • phenomenal conservatism
  • appearances
  • seemings
  • non-inferential justification
  • dogmatism
  • scepticism
  • Michael Huemer
  • James Pryor

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