Appearance and Explanation: A Defense of Phenomenal Explanationism

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Phenomenal Conservatism (PC) is a promising, and popular, internalist theory of epistemic justification. Despite its popularity it faces numerous objections and challenges. In Seemings and Epistemic Justification (Springer, 2020), Moretti suggests that integrating PC with a theory of reflective/inferential justification would have the potential to shield PC from various challenges. Moretti also suggests that this sort of integration is worth exploring because it may allow PC to provide a more forceful response to skepticism and better account for ordinary cognitive practices. In a similar vein, in “Explanationist Aid for Phenomenal Conservatism” (Synthese 2018), McCain argues that PC cannot be a complete account of epistemic justification without being supplemented so that it provides an account of inferential justification as well as an account of the nature of epistemic defeat. McCain suggests that explanationism (roughly, the idea that epistemic support is a matter of explanatory relations between one’s evidence and propositions supported by that evidence) can provide the needed supplementation—when combined with explanationism PC can yield a satisfying account of inferential justification and defeat. This new monograph builds upon these insights. More specifically, after arguing that a number of challenges to PC demonstrate that it cannot be a complete theory of epistemic justification, we explore the prospects of integrating PC and explanationism. The resulting theory, what we call “Phenomenal Explanationism” (PE), has advantages over PC and explanationism taken on their own. PE is a complete internalist theory of epistemic justification that delivers on the promises of PC while avoiding its pitfalls.
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First archival date: 2020-03-14
Latest version: 8 (2020-06-23)
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