Phenomenal conservatism and the problem of reflective awareness

American Philosophical Quarterly 55 (3):267-280 (2018)
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Abstract

This paper criticizes phenomenal conservatism––the influential view according to which a subject S’s seeming that P provides S with defeasible justification for believing P. I argue that phenomenal conservatism, if true at all, has a significant limitation: seeming-based justification is elusive because S can easily lose it by just reflecting on her seemings and speculating about their causes––I call this the problem of reflective awareness. Because of this limitation, phenomenal conservatism doesn’t have all the epistemic merits attributed to it by its advocates. If true, phenomenal conservatism would constitute a unified theory of epistemic justification capable of giving everyday epistemic practices a rationale, but it wouldn’t afford us the means of an effective response to the sceptic. Furthermore, phenomenal conservatism couldn’t form the general basis for foundationalism.

Author's Profile

Luca Moretti
University of Eastern Piedmont

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