Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 4, pp 1007–1030 | Cite as

Intentionalism, defeasibility, and justification

  • Kathrin Glüer


According to intentionalism, perceptual experience is a mental state with representational content. When it comes to the epistemology of perception, it is only natural for the intentionalist to hold that the justificatory role of experience is at least in part a function of its content. In this paper, I argue that standard versions of intentionalism trying to hold on to this natural principle face what I call the “defeasibility problem”. This problem arises from the combination of standard intentionalism with further plausible principles governing the epistemology of perception: that experience provides defeasible justification for empirical belief, and that such justification is best construed as probabilification. After exploring some ways in which the standard intentionalist could deal with the defeasibility problem, I argue that the best option is to replace standard intentionalism by what I call “phenomenal intentionalism”. Where standard intentionalism construes experiences as of p as having the content p, phenomenal intentionalism construes (visual) experiences as of p as having “phenomenal” or “looks contents”: contents of the form Lp (it looks as if p).


Perception Intentionalism Inferential reasons Justification Dogmatism Defeasibility 



I would like to thank Juan Comesaña, James Genone, Susanna Schellenberg, and Peter Pagin for very helpful comments and discussion.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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