Elijah Chudnoff elaborates and defends a view of intuition according to which intuition purports to, and reveals, how matters stand in abstract reality by making us aware of that reality through the intellect. He explores the experience of having an intuition; justification for beliefs that derives from intuition; and contact with abstract reality.
Phenomenology is about subjective aspects of the mind, such as the conscious states associated with vision and touch, and the conscious states associated with emotions and moods, such as feelings of elation or sadness. These states have a distinctive first-person ‘feel’ to them, called their phenomenal character. In this respect they are often taken to be radically different from mental states and processes associated with thought. This is the first book to fully question this orthodoxy and explore the prospects of (...) cognitive phenomenology, applying phenomenology to the study of thought and cognition. Does cognition have its own phenomenal character? Can introspection tell us either way? If consciousness flows in an unbroken ‘stream’ as William James argued, how might a punctuated sequence of thoughts fit into it? Elijah Chudnoff begins with a clarification of the nature of the debate about cognitive phenomenology and the network of concepts and theses that are involved in it. He then examines the following topics: • Introspection and knowledge of our own thoughts • Phenomenal contrast arguments • The value of consciousness • The temporal structure of experience • The holistic character of experience and the interdependence of sensory and cognitive states • The relationship between phenomenal character and mental representation -/- Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading, and a glossary, this book is essential reading for anyone seeking a clear and informative introduction to and assessment of cognitive phenomenology, whether philosophy student or advanced researcher. It will also be valuable reading for those in related subjects such as philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology and epistemology. (shrink)
In this paper I articulate and defend a view that I call phenomenal dogmatism about intuitive justification. It is dogmatic because it includes the thesis: if it intuitively seems to you that p, then you thereby have some prima facie justification for believing that p. It is phenomenalist because it includes the thesis: intuitions justify us in believing their contents in virtue of their phenomenology—and in particular their presentational phenomenology. I explore the nature of presentational phenomenology as it occurs perception, (...) and I make a case for thinking that it is present in a wide variety of logical, mathematical, and philosophical intuitions. (shrink)
What are intuitions? According to doxastic views, they are doxastic attitudes or dispositions, such as judgments or inclinations to make judgments. According to perceptualist views, they are—like perceptual experiences—pre-doxastic experiences that—unlike perceptual experiences—represent abstract matters as being a certain way. In this paper I argue against doxasticism and in favor of perceptualism. I describe two features that militate against doxasticist views of perception itself: perception is belief-independent and perception is presentational. Then I argue that intuitions also have both features. The (...) upshot is that intuitions are importantly similar to perceptual experiences, and so should not be identified with doxastic attitudes or dispositions. I consider a popular argument from the introspective absence of sui generis intuition experiences in favor of doxasticism. I develop a conception of intuition experiences that helps to defuse this argument. (shrink)
Experiences justify beliefs about our environment. Sometimes the justification is immediate: seeing a red light immediately justifies believing there is a red light. Other times the justification is mediate: seeing a red light justifies believing one should brake in a way that is mediated by background knowledge of traffic signals. How does this distinction map onto the distinction between what is and what isn't part of the content of experience? Epistemic egalitarians think that experiences immediately justify whatever is part of (...) their content. Epistemic elitists deny this and think that there is some further constraint the contents of experience must satisfy to be immediately justified. Here I defend epistemic elitism, propose a phenomenological account of what the further constraint is, and explore the resulting view's consequences for our knowledge of other minds, and in particular for perceptual theories of this knowledge. (shrink)
First impressions suggest the following contrast between perception and memory: perception generates new beliefs and reasons, justification, or evidence for those beliefs; memory preserves old beliefs and reasons, justification, or evidence for those beliefs. In this paper, I argue that reflection on perceptual learning gives us reason to adopt an alternative picture on which perception plays both generative and preservative epistemic roles.
A blindfolded clairvoyant walks into a room and immediately knows how it is arranged. You walk in and immediately see how it is arranged. Though both of you represent the room as being arranged in the same way, you have different experiences. Your experience doesn’t just represent that the room is arranged a certain way; it also visually presents the very items in the room that make that representation true. Call the felt aspect of your experience made salient by this (...) contrast its presentational phenomenology. Many philosophers have observed that perceptual experiences have presentational phenomenology. In this paper I explore its nature, scope, and significance. I argue that in addition to perceptual experiences, presentational phenomenology can be found in intuitive, introspective, imaginative, and recollective experiences. I also argue that presentational phenomenology is epistemologically significant: it plays a central role in explaining why the experiences that have it justify beliefs and give us knowledge. (shrink)
NOTE: this is a substantial revision of a previously uploaded draft. Intuitions are often thought of as inputs to theoretical reasoning. For example, you might form a belief by taking an intuition at face value, or you might take your intuitions as starting points in the method of reflective equilibrium. The aim of this paper is to argue that in addition to these roles intuitions also play action-guiding roles. The argument proceeds by reflection on the transmission of justification through inference. (...) According to inferential internalists, in order to gain justification for believing the conclusion of an argument by inferring it from the premises in that argument one must “see” that the premises support the conclusion. I motivate this view and endorse the idea that one’s “seeing” such a support relation consists of one’s having an intuition. In a number of recent papers, Paul Boghossian has pressed a regress argument against inferential internalism inspired by Lewis Carroll’s dialogue “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles.” I develop a response to Bogossian’s argument according to which intuitions work like mental imperatives and inferences are mental actions performed by obeying them. After developing this response to Boghossian’s argument, I take up the question of what it is in virtue of which intuitions play a guidance role, when they do so. (shrink)
According to proponents of irreducible cognitive phenomenology some cognitive states put one in phenomenal states for which no wholly sensory states suffice. One of the main approaches to defending the view that there is irreducible cognitive phenomenology is to give a phenomenal contrast argument. In this paper I distinguish three kinds of phenomenal contrast argument: what I call pure—represented by Strawson's Jack/Jacques argument—hypothetical—represented by Kriegel's Zoe argument—and glossed—first developed here. I argue that pure and hypothetical phenomenal contrast arguments face significant (...) difficulties, but that there is a sound glossed phenomenal contrast argument for irreducible cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
Dogmatists and phenomenal conservatives think that if it perceptually seems to you that p, then you thereby have some prima facie justification for believing that p. Increasingly, writers about these views have argued that perceptual seemings are composed of two other states: a sensation followed by a seeming. In this article we critically examine this movement. First we argue that there are no compelling reasons to think of perceptual seemings as so composed. Second we argue that even if they were (...) so composed, this underlying disunity in metaphysical or psychological structure would fall below the threshold of epistemic significance. (shrink)
Awareness is a two-place determinable relation some determinates of which are seeing, hearing, etc. Abstract objects are items such as universals and functions, which contrast with concrete objects such as solids and liquids. It is uncontroversial that we are sometimes aware of concrete objects. In this paper I explore the more controversial topic of awareness of abstract objects. I distinguish two questions. First, the Existence Question: are there any experiences that make their subjects aware of abstract objects? Second, the Grounding (...) Question: if an experience makes its subject aware of an abstract object, in virtue of what does it do so? I defend the view that intuitions, specifically mathematical intuitions, sometimes make their subjects aware of abstract objects. In defending this view, I develop an account of the ground of intuitive awareness. (shrink)
Here are four examples of “seeing.” You see that something green is wriggling. You see that an iguana is in distress. You see that someone is wrongfully harming an iguana. You see that torturing animals is wrong. The first is an example of low-level perception. You visually represent color and motion. The second is an example of high-level perception. You visually represent kind properties and mental properties. The third is an example of moral perception. You have an impression of moral (...) properties. The fourth is an example of intuition. You intellectually grasp a general moral truth. Should moral perceptions be thought of as high-level perceptions or as intuitions? Most proponents of moral perception have thought of them as high-level perceptions. I give epistemological and methodological reasons for thinking that at least some are examples of what I call low-level intuitions—experiences in which we both apprehend abstract generalities and apply them to concrete particulars. (shrink)
Aron Gurwitsch made two main contributions to phenomenology. He showed how to import Gestalt theoretical ideas into Husserl’s framework of constitutive phenomenology. And he explored the light this move sheds on both the overall structure of experience and on particular kinds of experience, especially perceptual experiences and conscious shifts in attention. The primary focus of this paper is the overall structure of experience. I show how Gurwitsch’s Gestalt theoretically informed phenomenological investigations provide a basis for defending what I will call (...) Phenomenal Holism, the view that all the parts of a total phenomenal state metaphysically depend on it. To illustrate how the ideas developed along the way can be used in advancing work on the phenomenology of particular kinds of experience, I draw on them in defending Husserl’s view that we can be aware of abstract objects against a phenomenological objection. (shrink)
The Gettier Problem is the problem of revising the view that knowledge is justified true belief in a way that is immune to Gettier counter-examples. The “Gettier Problem problem”, according to Lycan, is the problem of saying what is misguided about trying to solve the Gettier Problem. In this paper I take up the Gettier Problem problem. I distinguish giving conditions that are necessary and sufficient for knowledge from giving conditions that explain why one knows when one does know. I (...) argue that the problem with the Gettier Problem is that it requires us to articulate conditions that suffice for knowledge even if those conditions are non-explanatory. After defending this view, I take up two related methodological issues, one about the evidence that can be given in favor of an account of knowledge, and one about the role that investigating justification might play in investigating knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper I assume that we have some intuitive knowledge—i.e. beliefs that amount to knowledge because they are based on intuitions. The question I take up is this: given that some intuition makes a belief based on it amount to knowledge, in virtue of what does it do so? We can ask a similar question about perception. That is: given that some perception makes a belief based on it amount to knowledge, in virtue of what does it do so? (...) A natural idea about perception is that a perception makes a belief amount to knowledge in part by making you sensorily aware of the concrete objects it is about. The analogous idea about intuition is that an intuition makes a belief amount to knowledge in part by making you intellectually aware of the abstract objects it is about. I expand both ideas into fuller accounts of perceptual and intuitive knowledge, explain the main challenge to this sort of account of intuitive knowledge (i.e. the challenge of making sense of intellectual awareness), and develop a response to it. (shrink)
Perception and intuition are our basic sources of knowledge. They are also capacities we deliberately improve in ways that draw on our knowledge. Elijah Chudnoff explores how this happens, developing an account of the epistemology of expert perception and expert intuition, and a rationalist view of the role of intuition in philosophy.
Phenomenal holism is the thesis that some phenomenal characters can only be instantiated by experiences that are parts of certain wholes. The first aim of this paper is to defend phenomenal holism. I argue, moreover, that there are complex intellectual experiences (intellectual gestalts)—such as experiences of grasping a proof—whose parts instantiate holistic phenomenal characters. Proponents of cognitive phenomenology believe that some phenomenal characters can only be instantiated by experiences that are not purely sensory. The second aim of this paper is (...) to defend cognitive phenomenology. I argue that reflection on intellectual gestalts provides a basis for developing a case for cognitive phenomenology that is immune to many of the worries that beset more familiar arguments for cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
According to the most popular non-skeptical views about intuition, intuitions justify beliefs because they are based on understanding. More precisely: if intuiting that p justifies you in believing that p it does so because your intuition is based on your understanding of the proposition that p. The aim of this paper is to raise some challenges for accounts of intuitive justification along these lines. I pursue this project from a non-skeptical perspective. I argue that there are cases in which intuiting (...) that p justifies you in believing that p, but such that there is no compelling reason to think this is because your intuition is based on your understanding of the proposition that p. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the relationship between consciousness and knowledge, and in particular on the role perceptual consciousness might play in justifying beliefs about the external world. We outline a version of phenomenal dogmatism according to which perceptual experiences immediately, prima facie justify certain select parts of their content, and do so in virtue of their having a distinctive phenomenology with respect to those contents. Along the way we take up various issues in connection with this core theme, including the (...) possibility of immediate justification, the dispute between representational and relational views of perception, the epistemic significance of cognitive penetration, the question of whether perceptual experiences are composed of more basic sensations and seemings, and questions about the existence and epistemic significance of high-level content. In a concluding section we briefly consider how some of the topics pursued here might generalize beyond perception. (shrink)
According to current methodological orthodoxy philosophers rely on intuitions about thought experiments to refute general claims about the nature of knowledge, freedom, thought, reference, justice, beauty, etc. Philosophers working under the banner of ‘negative experimental philosophy’ have criticized more traditional philosophers for relying on this method. They argue that intuitions about thought experiments are influenced by factors that are irrelevant to the truth of their contents. Cappelen and Deutsch defend traditional philosophy against this critique by rejecting the picture of philosophical (...) methodology it presupposes: philosophers do not really rely on intuitions. In this paper, I defend methodological orthodoxy by arguing that philosophers must rely on intuitions somewhere and that they do in fact often rely on intuitions about thought experiments. I also argue in favor of a reply to the negative experimental critique that is similar to at least part of Deutsch’s own. (shrink)
Expertise is traditionally classified into perceptual, cognitive, and motor forms. I argue that the empirical research literature on expertise gives us compelling reasons to reject this traditional classification and accept an alternative. According to the alternative I support there is expertise in forming impressions, which further divides into expertise in forming sensory and intellectual impressions, and there is expertise in performing actions, which further divides into expertise in performing mental and bodily actions. The traditional category of cognitive expertise splits into (...) two--expertise in forming intellectual impressions and expertise in performing mental actions. I consider and address a challenge to my case in favor of adopting this alternative classification of expertise that derives from dual process theories of cognition. (shrink)
There is a felt difference between following an argument to its conclusion and keeping up with an argument in your judgments while failing to see how its conclusion follows from its premises. In the first case there’s what I’m calling an inferential seeming, in the second case there isn’t. Inferential seemings exhibit a cluster of functional and normative characteristics whose integration in one mental state is puzzling. Several recent accounts of inferring suggest inferential seemings play a significant role in the (...) process, but none provides a fully satisfactory understanding of inferential seemings themselves. In this paper I critically examine theoretical options on offer in the existing literature, then develop an alternative view. I discuss implications for recent debates about general principles governing inference, such as Fumerton’s Principle of Inferential Justification and Boghossian’s Taking Condition. (shrink)
What is the epistemic significance of taking a veridical perceptual experience at face value? To first approximations, the Minimal View says that it is true belief, and the Maximal View says that it is knowledge. I sympathetically explore the prospects of the Maximal View.
Reflection on the possibility of cases in which experience is cognitively penetrated has suggested to many that an experience's etiology can reduce its capacity to provide prima facie justification for believing its content below a baseline. This is epistemic downgrade due to etiology, and its possibility is incompatible with phenomenal conservatism. I develop a view that explains the epistemic deficiency in certain possible cases of cognitive penetration but on which there is no epistemic downgrading below a baseline and on which (...) etiology plays no explanatory role. This view is not phenomenal conservatism exactly, but it does capture what’s right about phenomenal conservatism. (shrink)
The literature on mathematics suggests that intuition plays a role in it as a ground of belief. This article explores the nature of intuition as it occurs in mathematical thinking. Section 1 suggests that intuitions should be understood by analogy with perceptions. Section 2 explains what fleshing out such an analogy requires. Section 3 discusses Kantian ways of fleshing it out. Section 4 discusses Platonist ways of fleshing it out. Section 5 sketches a proposal for resolving the main problem facing (...) Platonists—the problem of explaining how our experiences make contact with mathematical reality. (shrink)
Thought experiments figure prominently in contemporary epistemology. Beyond that humdrum observation, controversy abounds. The aim of this paper is to make progress on two fronts. On the descriptive front, the aim is to illuminate what the practice of using thought experiments involves. On the normative front, the aim is to illuminate what the practice of using thought experiments should involve. Thought experiments result in judgments that are passed on to further philosophical reasoning. What are these judgments? What is the point (...) of making them? What basis do we have for making them? A conception of thought experiments includes answers to these three questions. My thesis is that epistemologists should use thought experiments in accordance with a conception of them organized around the idea of explanation. My case for endorsing the thesis rests on the fruitfulness of the interventions in current debates about the content, point, and basis of thought experiment judgments that it suggests. (shrink)
“The Epistemic Significance of Perceptual Learning” defends the view that perceptual experiences generate justification in virtue of their presentational phenomenology, preserve past justification in virtue of the influence of perceptual learning on them, and thereby allow new beliefs formed on their basis to also be partly based on that past justification. “The Real Epistemic Significance of Perceptual Learning” mounts challenges to these three claims. Here we explore some avenues for responding to those challenges.
Gettier’s paper, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?,” is widely taken to be a paradigm example of the sort of philosophical methodology that has been so hotly debated in the recent literature. Reflection on it motivates the following four theses about that methodology: (A) Intuitive judgments form an epistemically distinctive kind. (B) Intuitive judgments play an epistemically privileged role in philosophical methodology. (C) If intuitive judgments play an epistemically privileged role in philosophical methodology, then their role is to be taken as (...) given inputs into generally accepted forms of reasoning. (D) Philosophical methodology is reasonable. Negative experimental philosophers have empirically challenged (D). Radical responses to their challenge include Williamson’s rejection of (A) and Cappelen and Deutsch’s rejection of (B). Here I follow traditionalists in maintaining (A), (B), and (D), but suggest questioning (C), which has largely been taken as a fixed point in the literature. (shrink)
According to proponents of irreducible cognitive phenomenology some cognitive states put one in phenomenal states for which no wholly sensory states suffice. One of the main approaches to defending the view that there is irreducible cognitive phenomenology is to give a phenomenal contrast argument. In this paper I distinguish three kinds of phenomenal contrast argument: what I call pure--represented by Strawson’s Jack/Jacques argument --hypothetical-- represented by Kriegel’s Zoe argument --and glossed-- first developed here. I argue that pure and hypothetical phenomenal (...) contrast arguments face significant difficulties, but that there is a sound glossed phenomenal contrast argument for irreducible cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
According to Michael Bergmann’s “intuitionist particularism,” our position with respect to skeptical arguments is much the same as it was with respect to Zeno’s paradoxes of motion prior to our developing sophisticated theories of the continuum. We observed ourselves move, and that closed the case in favor of the ability to move, even if we had no general theory about that ability. We observe ourselves form justified beliefs, and that closes the case in favor of the ability to form justified (...) beliefs, even if we have no general theory about that ability. I think this is a mistake. Our position with respect to skeptical arguments is like our current position with respect to Zeno’s paradoxes. Mathematics shows where Zeno’s reasoning goes wrong and provisions explanations of the ability to move. Epistemology shows where the skeptic’s reasoning goes wrong and provisions explanations of the ability to form justified beliefs. (shrink)