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The Positive Case for Phenomenal Conservatism: An Assessment

Landon Hedrick, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The theory of Phenomenal Conservatism in epistemology, most notably defended by Michael Huemer, claims that whenever it seems to someone that some proposition p (e.g. “I have hands”) is true, it thereby gives that individual some degree of justification to believe that p—as long as there is no defeater present which undermines this justification. In assessing the merits of this theory, philosophers have deemed it important to determine precisely what is involved in a proposition seeming true to a subject. Put another way, they have attempted to discern the nature of 'seemings' or 'appearances.' Huemer and other proponents of Phenomenal Conservatism tend to argue that seemings are a type of experience. Huemer has also developed multiple arguments in support of Phenomenal Conservatism, including a self-defeat argument, an argument based on the nature of epistemic rationality, and an argument based on the truth of internalism about epistemic justification. This dissertation aims to establish, first, that seemings are actually a type of doxastic state—they are conscious or occurrent beliefs, or degrees of belief. The remainder of the dissertation undermines the three arguments in favor of Phenomenal Conservatism listed above.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Hedrick, Landon, "The Positive Case for Phenomenal Conservatism: An Assessment" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI13862695.