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Title: Perceptual justification and the phenomenology of experience
Author: Willhoft, J. D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2730 5576
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis seeks to provide an explanation of what I call the Basic Principle about Perceptual Justification which states that if a subject S has a perceptual experience as of a mind-independent object x being F (or in which it appears to him as if an x is F), and forms the belief that an x is F on the basis of having an experience of this phenomenological sort, then (perhaps provided certain further conditions obtain) S‘s belief that an x is F is prima facie justified for S. I distinguish between two conceptions of epistemic justification. Roughly, on an objective conception, a subject S has a justified belief that p if he bases this belief on grounds that entail or make likely the truth of p, while on a subjective conception a subject S has a justified belief that p if he forms this belief on the basis of his occupying a perspective from which a situation obtains that entails or makes likely the truth of p. I argue that the truth of the Basic Principle can be derived, in part, from facts about the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. In particular, I argue that the Basic Principle can be explained by saying that the subject‘s perceptual experience can provide him with justification for believing that an x is F in the subjective sense and that it does so, in part, in virtue of its phenomenal character. I also address the question of whether perceptual experiences can provide us with immediate justification for believing propositions about our environment, that is, with justification that does not depend on our having independent justification for believing other propositions such as the proposition that perceptual experiences are generally reliable. To this end, I consider the so-called problem of easy knowledge and argue that the issues concerning this problem should not compel us into thinking that perceptual justification cannot be immediate.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available