This book examines phenomenal conservatism, one of the most influential and promising internalist conceptions of non-inferential justification debated in current epistemology and philosophy of mind. It also explores the significance of the findings of this examination for the general debate on epistemic justification.
According to phenomenal conservatism, non-inferential justification rests on seemings or appearances, conceived of as experiences provided with propositional content. Phenomenal conservatism states that if it appears to S that P, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has some justification for believing that P. This view provides the basis for foundationalism and many ordinary epistemic practices.
This book sheds new light on phenomenal conservatism by assessing objections to it and examining epistemological merits and advantages attributed to it. In a nutshell, phenomenal conservatism is actually compatible with Bayesian reasoning, and it is unaffected by bootstrapping problems and challenges that appeal to the cognitive penetrability of perception. Nevertheless, appearance-based justification proves unstable or elusive and its antiseptic bite is more limited than expected. These difficulties could be surmounted if phenomenal conservatism were integrated with a theory of inferential justification. The book appeals to scholars and postgraduates in the field of epistemology and philosophy of mind who are interested in the rational roles of appearances.
Luca Moretti is a Reader at the University of Aberdeen's Department of Philosophy and a Visiting Professor at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy. He holds an MLitt in Logic & Metaphysics from St Andrews and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from King's College London. His research areas include epistemology and metaphysics, and he has substantively contributed to the debates on Bayesian coherentism, transmission and failure of transmission of justification, and phenomenal conservatism. Moretti has published articles in various journals, including Analysis, Philosophical Studies, and Philosophy of Science.
2. Phenomenal conservatism2.1 Introduction2.2 The basics of phenomenal conservatism2.3 The nature of seemings2.4 Supporting phenomenal conservatism2.5 Preliminary criticism of phenomenal conservatism2.6 ConclusionsReferences
3. Cognitive penetrability3.1 Introduction3.2 Characterizing cognitive penetrability3.3 The epistemic problem of cognitive penetrability3.4 The reliabilist account3.5 The inferentialist account3.6 Taming cognitive penetrability3.7 ConclusionsReferences
4. The Bayesian objection4.1 Introduction4.2 White's objection4.3 Responding to White's objection4.4 Perceptual appearances and reflective justification4.5 ConclusionsReferences
5. Antiscepticism and easy justification
5.1 Introduction5.2 Antiscepticism and reflective awareness5.3 Easy justification objections5.4 Answering the easy justification from closure objection5.5 Answering the easy justification from bootstrapping objection5.6 ConclusionsReferences
6. Concluding remarks