Philosophical Studies

, Volume 163, Issue 1, pp 271–290 | Cite as

Rational intuition and understanding



Rational intuitions involve a particular form of understanding that gives them a special epistemic status. This form of understanding and its epistemic efficacy are not explained by several current theories of rational intuition, including Phenomenal Conservatism (Huemer, Skepticism and the veil of perception, 2001; Ethical intuitionism, 2005; Philos Phenomenol Res 74:30–55, 2007), Proper Functionalism (Plantinga, Warrant and proper function, 1993), the Competency Theory (Bealer Pac Philos Q 81:1–30, 2000; Sosa, A virtue epistemology, 2007) and the Direct Awareness View (Conee, Philos Phenomenol Res 4:847–857, 1998; Bonjour, In defense of pure reason, 1998). Some overlook it; others try to account for it but fail. We can account for the role of understanding in rational intuition by returning to the view of some of the early Rationalists, e.g. Descartes and Leibniz. While that view carries a prohibitive cost, it does contain an insight that may help us solve the problem of giving understanding its due.


Rational intuition Understanding Phenomenal conservatism Proper function Direct awareness Knowledge Justification 



I am grateful to participants in the discussion for their helpful comments. I have benefitted from discussions of this material with Matt McGrath and from the very helpful criticisms of a referee for this journal.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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