Not So Phenomenal!

The Philosophical Review (forthcoming)
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Our main aims in this paper is to discuss and criticise the core thesis of a position that has become known as phenomenal conservatism. According to this thesis, its seeming to one that p provides enough justification for a belief in p to be prima facie justified (a thesis we label Standard Phenomenal Conservatism). This thesis captures the special kind of epistemic import that seemings are claimed to have. To get clearer on this thesis, we embed it, first, in a probabilistic framework in which updating on new evidence happens by Bayesian conditionalization, and second, a framework in which updating happens by Jeffrey conditionalization. We spell out problems for both views, and then generalize some of these to non-probabilistic frameworks. The main theme of our discussion is that the epistemic import of a seeming (or experience) should depend on its content in a plethora of ways that phenomenal conservatism is insensitive to.

Author Profiles

Maria Lasonen-Aarnio
University of Helsinki
John Hawthorne
Australian Catholic University


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