Rationalism and the Content of Intuitive Judgements

Mind 120 (478):263-327 (2011)
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Abstract

It is commonly held that our intuitive judgements about imaginary problem cases are justified a priori, if and when they are justified at all. In this paper I defend this view — ‘rationalism’ — against a recent objection by Timothy Williamson. I argue that his objection fails on multiple grounds, but the reasons why it fails are instructive. Williamson argues from a claim about the semantics of intuitive judgements, to a claim about their psychological underpinnings, to the denial of rationalism. I argue that the psychological claim — that a capacity for mental simulation explains our intuitive judgements — does not, even if true, provide reasons to reject rationalism. (More generally, a simulation hypothesis, about any category of judgements, is very limited in its epistemological implications: it is pitched at a level of explanation that is insensitive to central epistemic distinctions.) I also argue that Williamson’s semantic claim — that intuitive judgements are judgements of counterfactuals — is mistaken; rather, I propose, they are a certain kind of metaphysical possibility judgement. Several other competing proposals are also examined and criticized

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Anna-Sara Malmgren
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

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