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Abstract: 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.
Abstract: What is the epistemological value of perceptual experience? In his recently influential paper, “The Skeptic and the Dogmatist”1, James Pryor develops a seemingly plausible answer to this question. Pryor’s answer comprises the following three theses: (F) “Our perceptual justification for beliefs about our surroundings is always defeasible – there are always possible improvements in our epistemic state which would no longer support those beliefs.” (517) (PK) “This justification that you get merely by having an experience as of p can sometimes suffice to give you knowledge that p is the case.” (520) (D) “When it perceptually seems to you as if p is the case, you have a kind of justification for believing p that does not presuppose or rest on your justification for anything else, which could be cited in argument (even an ampliative argument) for p. To have this justification for believing p, you need only have an experience that represents p as being the case. No further awareness or reflection or background beliefs are required.” (519) Let’s use the phrase “fallibilist dogmatism” to refer to the conjunction of (F), (PK), and (D).2 Pryor does not argue for either (F) or (PK) in his paper; he simply shares the widespread and plausible assumption that (F) and (PK) are both true. But the conjunction of (F) and (PK) implies that we can have knowledge on the basis of defeasible justification. And this view leads to paradox. Consider the following individually plausible but jointly incompatible statements
Abstract: Consider the skeptic about the external world. Let’s straightaway concede to such a skeptic that perception gives us no conclusive or certain knowledge about our surroundings. Our perceptual justification for beliefs about our surroundings is always defeasible—there are always possible improvements in our epistemic state which would no longer support those beliefs. Let’s also concede to the skeptic that it’s metaphysically possible for us to have all the experiences we’re now having while all those experiences are false. Some philosophers dispute this, but I do not. The skeptic I want to consider goes beyond these familiar points to the much more radical conclusion that our perceptual experiences can’t give us any knowledge or even justification for believing that our surroundings are one way rather than another
Abstract: It is sometimes said that in depression, everything looks grey. If this is true, then mood can influence the character of perceptual experience: depending only on whether a viewer is depressed or not, how a scene looks to that viewer can differ even if all other conditions stay the same. This would be an example of cognitive penetrability of visual experience by other mental states. Here the influential cognitive state is a mood. Other putative examples of cognitive penetrability involve beliefs: to the reader of Russian, the sheet of Cyrillic script looks different than it looked to her before she could read it. When you know that bananas are yellow, this knowledge affects what color you see bananas to be (an achromatic banana will  appear yellowish). To the vain performer, the faces in the audience range in their expression from neutral to pleased, but remarkably no one ever looks disapproving. To the underconfident performer, the faces in the audience range in their expression from neutral to displeased, but remarkably no one ever looks approving. And in cases of suggestibility, the mere salience of a hypothesis seems to have an effect on how a given stimulus is experienced. Potential cognitive penetrators thus include moods, beliefs, hypotheses, knowledge, desires, and traits. In some cases, cognitively penetration can be epistemically beneficial. If an x ray looks different to a radiologist from the way it looks to someone lacking radiological expertise, then the radiologist gets more information about the world from her experience (such as whether there’s a tumor) than the non expert does from looking at the same x ray. If Iris Murdoch and John McDowell are right that having the right sort of character lets you see more moral facts than someone lacking that character sees when faced with the same situation, then there too your perceptual experience becomes epistemically better thanks to its being penetrated by your  character. In other cases, however, cognitive penetration seems to make experience epistemically worse..