Higher Seminar in theoretical philosophy: Martina Fürst (Graz)


Date: Thursday 30 November 2023

Time: 13.15 – 15.00

Location: D700

Phenomenal Mismatch and Perceptual Justification


On a popular view of perceptual justification, perceptual experiences provide prima facie justification for beliefs based upon them. This view, labelled phenomenal conservatism, is challenged by cases in which the experience has a bad basis. To explain the bad basis cases, some philosophers (e.g., Siegel 2017, McGrath 2013) develop an etiologically restricted conservatism. However, these accounts depart from the key tenets of phenomenal conservatism that etiology does not matter for an experience´s justificatory power. This motivates the search for a novel theory that explains the bad cases while staying true to the key tenets of phenomenal conservatism. 

In this talk, I propose a novel version of a restricted conservatism that meets the desideratum of explaining the bad cases by focusing only on intrinsic features of the experience, rather than on their etiology. I proceed as follows: Firstly, I provide an example of the bad case, namely a perceptual experience that has been shaped by racist prejudice. Secondly, I analyze the overall phenomenology of the target experiences in detail and I show that in the bad cases, the target experiences exhibit a mismatching overall phenomenology. Thirdly, I argue that phenomenal mismatch provides internal phenomenal defeat which explains why the target experience is epistemically deficient. I conclude that the resulting view, a phenomenally restricted conservatism, has the advantage of explaining the bad basis cases while staying true to the spirit of phenomenal conservatism.