Phenomenal Conservatism and Bergmann’s Dilemma
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In this paper we argue that Michael Huemer’s (PC) phenomenal conservatism—the internalist view according to which our beliefs are prima facie justified if based on how things seems or appears to us to be—doesn’t fall afoul of Michael Bergmann’s dilemma for epistemological internalism. We start by showing that the thought experiment that Bergmann adduces to conclude that (PC) is vulnerable to his dilemma misses its target. After that, we distinguish between two ways in which a mental state can contribute to the justification of a belief: the direct way and the indirect way. We identify a straightforward reason for claiming that the justification contributed indirectly is subject to Bergmann’s dilemma. Then we show that the same reason doesn’t extend to the claim that the justification contributed directly is subject to Bergmann’s dilemma. As (PC) is the view that seemings or appearances contribute justification directly, we infer that Bergmann’s contention that his dilemma applies to (PC) is unmotivated. In the final part, we suggest that our line of response to Bergmann can be used to shield other types of internalist justification from Bergmann’s objection. We also propose that seeming-grounded justification can be combined with justification of one of these types to form the basis of a promising version of internalist foundationalism.
KeywordsJustify Belief Epistemic Justification Propositional Justification Internalist Justification Doxastic Justification
We are grateful for very useful comments and criticism on drafts of this paper to Michael Bergmann, Chris Tucker, a referee of this Journal and audience at the conference Philosophy, Analysis and Public Engagement, University of L’Aquila, 3–5 September 2014. The final draft of this paper was written at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP). The authors thank the MCMP for hosting them and for providing a stimulating atmosphere to conduct this research.
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