The proper role of intuitions in epistemology

In M. Milkowski & K. Talmont-Kaminski (eds.), Beyond Description: Normativity in Naturalized Philosophy. College Publication (2010)
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Intuitions play an important role in contemporary philosophy. It is common for theories in epistemology, morality, semantics and metaphysics to be rejected because they are inconsistent with a widely and firmly held intuition. Our goal in this paper is to explore the role of epistemic intuitions in epistemology from a naturalistic perspective. Here is the question we take to be central: (Q) Ought we to trust our epistemic intuitions as evidence in support of our epistemological theories? We will understand this question as employing an epistemic ‘ought’ – insofar as we aim at developing a correct epistemological theory, ought we to trust our epistemic intuitions as evidence for or against our epistemological theories? As it stands, (Q) needs further clarification. Whether something is trustworthy is relative to what (a) what it is and (b) what we’re asking it to do. Sam might trust Marie but not George to care for his children, while he might trust both to care for his pet fish. So in order to address (Q), we first need to explore two questions: What are epistemic intuitions? And what sort of epistemological theories do we want? We will take up each of these questions in the following sections.

Author Profiles

Michael Bishop
Florida State University
Adam Feltz
Michigan Technological University


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