Empiricism and Being in the Right Phenomenological Frame of Mind

by Max Andrews

What if it were the case that justification of our beliefs in propositions describing physical objects is always inferential and that it is always from propositions about the nature of our experiences that such inferences are made.? If this is true, there are two conditions that must be satisfied concerning inferential belief in physical objects:

(1) Statements about experience must count as reasons or evidence for statements about objects.
(2) Statements about experience must in some, no doubt rather obscure, sense be accepted by those who make statements about objects.

Maybe there’s reason to doubt  (1) and (2) by simply suggesting that that it is not always the case that most people are always in the “appropriate, sophisticated, phenomenological frame of mind.”  This is certainly true to an extent; so let us refer to this handicap as H.  It may be the case person S is intoxicated with alcohol and his phenomenological apprehension may be malfunctioning or that S realizes that his phenomenological apprehension of the external world is not as it should be and is capable of recognizing malfunction.  For example, Lewis knows that he had too much to drink and that his phenomenological faculties are not functioning as they should.  Lewis decides to go to bed to sleep off his state of mind and he walks into the bathroom to brush his teeth.  His toothbrush has always been in the same holder since he moved in years ago.  He looks down at his toothbrush and it appears to him that his it is actually moving around in circles.  Lewis, knowing he has had too much to drink and is aware of what usually happens when one drinks too much, realizes that his toothbrush is most likely still and that his faculties are malfunctioning.  Lewis comes to the belief that his toothbrush is stationary despite the appearance that it is not. Thus, does not negate the fact that H may be factored in to justification, namely:

(3) Statements about experience conform to (1) and/or (2) when S’s phenomenological faculties are malfunctioning but are consciously corrected or accounted for.

When there is good reason to disregard (1) and (1) is when S believes that his phenomenological faculties are functioning appropriately when, in fact, they are not function properly.  This would certainly qualify as being delusory.  It may also be the case that S’s phenomenological faculties are not functioning properly when he believes they are and yet, by corrective happenstance, S arrives at a true belief rests with the Gettier problem.


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