Experience and Epistemic Structure: Can Cognitive Penetration Result in Epistemic Downgrade?

In Timothy Chan & Anders Nes (eds.), Inference and Consciousness. Routledge (2019)
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Reflection on the possibility of cases in which experience is cognitively penetrated has suggested to many that an experience's etiology can reduce its capacity to provide prima facie justification for believing its content below a baseline. This is epistemic downgrade due to etiology, and its possibility is incompatible with phenomenal conservatism. I develop a view that explains the epistemic deficiency in certain possible cases of cognitive penetration but on which there is no epistemic downgrading below a baseline and on which etiology plays no explanatory role. This view is not phenomenal conservatism exactly, but it does capture what’s right about phenomenal conservatism.

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Elijah Chudnoff
University of Miami


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