Husserl Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 1–14

Phenomenology and Fallibility



If Husserl is correct, phenomenological inquiry produces knowledge with an extremely high level of epistemic warrant or justification. However, there are several good reasons to think that we are highly fallible at carrying out phenomenological inquiries. It is extremely difficult to engage in phenomenological investigations, and there are very few substantive phenomenological claims that command a widespread consensus. In what follows, I introduce a distinction between method-fallibility and agent-fallibility, and use it to argue that the fact that we are fallible phenomenologists does not undermine Husserl’s claims concerning the epistemic value of phenomenological inquiry. I will also defend my account against both internalist and externalist objections.


  1. Alston, W. (1989). What’s wrong with immediate knowledge? In W. Alston (Ed.), Epistemic justification: Essays in the theory of knowledge. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Blackburn, S. (1984). Spreading the word. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bonjour, L. (1985). The structure of empirical knowledge. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bonjour, L. (1992). Externalism/Internalism. In J. Dancy & E. Sosa (Eds.), A companion to epistemology (pp. 132–136). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Bonjour, L. (1999). Foundationalism and the external world. Philosophical Perspectives, 13, 229–249.Google Scholar
  6. Dennett, D. (1991). Consciousness explained. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  7. Drummond, J. (2007). Phenomenology: Neither auto- nor hetero- be. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 6, 57–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Føllesdal, D. (1988). Husserl on evidence and justification. In R. Sokolowski (Ed.), Edmund Husserl and the phenomenological tradition (pp. 107–129). Washington: The Catholic University of America Press.Google Scholar
  9. Goldman, A. (1979). What is justified belief? In G. S. Pappas (Ed.), Justification and knowledge (pp. 1–23). Dordrecht: D. Reidel.Google Scholar
  10. Greco, J. (1999). Agent reliabilism. Philosophical Perspectives, 13, 273–296.Google Scholar
  11. Hopp, W. (2008). Husserl, phenomenology, and foundationalism. Inquiry, 51, 194–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Husserl, E. (1963). Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge. Husserliana S. Strasser (Ed.). Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. Cartesian meditations (D. Cairns, Trans.). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1977.Google Scholar
  13. Husserl, E. (1966). Analysen zur passiven Synthesis. Aus Vorlesungs- und Forschungsmanuskripten, 1918–1926. Husserliana XI. M. Fleisher (Ed.). Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. Analyses concerning passive and active synthesis (A. J. Steinbock, Trans.). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001.Google Scholar
  14. Husserl, E. (1973a). Die Idee der Phänomenologie. Husserliana II. W. Biemel (Ed.). Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. The idea of phenomenology (L. Hardy, Trans.). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999.Google Scholar
  15. Husserl, E. (1973b). Ding und Raum. Husserliana XVI. U. Claesges (Ed.). Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. Thing and space (R. Rojcewicz, Trans.). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997.Google Scholar
  16. Husserl, E. (1974). Formale und transzendentale Logik. Husserliana XVII. P. Janssen (Ed.). Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. Formal and transcendental logic (D. Cairns, Trans.). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969.Google Scholar
  17. Husserl, E. (1976). Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Erstes Buch: Allgemeine Einfuhrung in die reine Phänomenologie. Husserliana III. K. Schuhman (Ed.). Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy. First book: General introduction to a pure phenomenology (F. Kersten, Trans.). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982.Google Scholar
  18. Husserl, E. (1984). Logische Untersuchungen. Zweiter Band: Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis. Husserliana XIX U. Panzer (Ed.). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Logical investigations (J. N. Findlay, Trans.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970.Google Scholar
  19. Smith, D. W. (2004). Mind world. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Thomasson, A. L. (2005). First-personal knowledge in phenomenology. In D. W. Smith & A. L. Thomasson (Eds.), Phenomenology and the philosophy of mind (pp. 115–139). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  21. Van Cleve, J. (1979). Foundationalism, epistemic principles, and the Cartesian circle. The Philosophical Review, 88, 55–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Willard, D. (2002). The world well won: Husserl’s epistemic realism one hundred years later. In D. Zahavi & F. Stjernfelt (Eds.), One hundred years of phenomenology (pp. 69–78). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Zahavi, D. (2007). Killing the straw man: Dennett and phenomenology. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 6, 21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations