Philosophical Studies

, Volume 162, Issue 2, pp 119–141 | Cite as

Phenomenal conservatism, classical foundationalism, and internalist justification



In “Compassionate Phenomenal Conservatism” (2007), “Phenomenal Conservatism and the Internalist Intuition” (2006), and Skepticism and the Veil of Perception (2001), Michael Huemer endorses the principle of phenomenal conservatism, according to which appearances or seemings constitute a fundamental source of (defeasible) justification for belief. He claims that those who deny phenomenal conservatism, including classical foundationalists, are in a self-defeating position, for their views cannot be both true and justified; that classical foundationalists have difficulty accommodating false introspective beliefs; and that phenomenal conservatism is most faithful to the central internalist intuition. I argue that Huemer’s self-defeat argument fails, that classical foundationalism is able to accommodate fallible introspective beliefs, and that classical foundationalism has no difficulty accommodating a relatively clear internalist intuition. I also show that the motivation for phenomenal conservatism is less than clear.


Phenomenal conservatism Classical foundationalism Internalist justification Fallible foundational beliefs Michael Huemer 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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