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Epistemic foundations Rée, Robert 1983

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EPISTEMIC FOUNDATIONS by ROBERT REE B.A., York U n i v e r s i t y , Toronto, 1979 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Philosophy) We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA January 1983 © Robert Ree, 1983 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and study. I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head o f my department or by h i s or her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department of P h i l o s o p h y  The U n i v e r s i t y o f . B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main M a l l Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date January 11, 1983 DE-6 (3/81) ABSTRACT A t r a d i t i o n a l f o u n d a t i o n a l i s t such as Lewis c l a i m s that without a b s o l u t e l y c e r t a i n f o u n d a t i o n a l b e l i e f s our e m p i r i c a l claims about the world would be a r b i t r a r y , f o r i f j u s t i f i c a -t i o n would be a matter of coherence alone, i t would be pos-s i b l e t o b e l i e v e anything whatever. Lewis holds that s t a t e -ments about our immediate sensory experiences are a b s o l u t e l y c e r t a i n because they are i n c o r r i g i b l e , but Armstrong, Ayer, Goodman and S i k o r a have shown that i t i s both l o g i c a l l y and f a c t u a l l y p o s s i b l e t o be mistaken about one's c u r r e n t sensory experiences. The q u e s t i o n i s then whether some k i n d of f o u n d a t i o n a l view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n can be maintained without the e x i s t e n c e of a b s o l u t e l y c e r t a i n or i n c o r r i g i b l e b e l i e f s . Annis, Ayer, Delaney and S i k o r a a l l have formulated f o u n d a t i o n a l accounts of j u s t i f i c a t i o n without r e l y i n g on a b s o l u t e l y c e r t a i n b e l i e f s , but o b j e c t i o n s can be made to some of these accounts to show that they do not r e a l l y work. W i l l i a m s charges that any k i n d of f o u n d a t i o n a l view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s doomed to f a i l u r e because there are no such t h i n g s as i n t r i n s i c a l l y c r e d i b l e b e l i e f s . But i t can be shown t h a t , without i n t r i n s i c a l l y c r e d i b l e b e l i e f s , W i l l i a m s ' s no-foundations view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s r a d i c a l l y d e f e c t i v e , and the view w i l l be defended that sensory judgements have ° at l e a s t some degree of i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y . i i i CONTENTS ABSTRACT i i INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER I C. I. Lewis: T r a d i t i o n a l Foundationalism 7 CHAPTER II D. M. Armstrong: Arguments Against I n c o r r i g i b i l i t y . . . 12 CHAPTER III Nelson Goodman: Arguments Against I n c o r r i g i b i l i t y . . . 19 CHAPTER IV A. J. Ayer: T r a d i t i o n a l Foundationalism Without I n c o r r i g i b i l i t y 25 CHAPTER V C. F. Delaney: Mitigated Foundationalism 41 CHAPTER VI R. I. Sikora: Modest Foundationalism 49 CHAPTER VII David B. Annis: Relativized Foundationalism 58 CHAPTER VIII Michael Williams: The No-Foundations View 66 CHAPTER IX A C r i t i c i s m of the No-Foundations View 89 BIBLIOGRAPHY 108 1 INTRODUCTION Epistemic foundationalism i s the view that empirical knowledge rests at bottom on epistemologically basic be-l i e f s that are at least to some degree i n t r i n s i c a l l y cred-i b l e . Foundationalists claim that, without such basic be-l i e f s , our knowledge of the world would be ar b i t r a r y , because no b e l i e f w i l l ever be j u s t i f i e d i f at some point we did not have independently j u s t i f i e d b e l i e f s to bring the process of j u s t i f i c a t i o n to a d e f i n i t e stop. Foundation-a l i s t s invariably hold that the only alternative to a founda-t i o n a l view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s some kind of coherence theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n which accepts candidate b e l i e f s s olely on the basis of t h e i r coherence with b e l i e f s already held. In connection with the coherence theory, C. I. Lewis once sugges-ted that any theory of knowledge' which denied the existence of epistemologically basic b e l i e f s i s not an explanation of anything, but merely an i n t e l l e c t u a l d i s a s t e r . 1 Some philosophers claim that the recent success of the coherentist account of j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s largely due to the starkness of the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist position. They suggest that coherentists avoid s p e c i f i c s c e p t i c a l concerns which have driven philosophers to the foundational view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n , and that there i s a r e a l need to look for a 2 range of alternatives between the two extremes. It i s the aim of t h i s thesis to survey several views of j u s t i f i c a t i o n which have been offered as alternatives to both t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalism and coherentism. I s h a l l present such views of j u s t i f i c a t i o n in summary form, and in the order which shows best t h e i r philosophical a f f i l i a t i o n with e i t h -er the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist or coherentist view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . The position of t r a d i t i o n a l epistemic foundationalism w i l l be introduced in chapter I, by an account of Lewis's views on knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n . Lewis i s our champ-ion in the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist camp, with his hard-l i n e view concerning the absolute i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y of sensory reports and his insistence that we must have epistemic cer-t a i n t i e s for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of a l l empirical claims. There are certain inconsistencies and ambiguities in Lewis's account which w i l l be noted during the course of the chapter Chapters II and III w i l l present several arguments against the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y thesis, by D. M. Armstrong and Nelson Goodman. My reasons for presenting Armstrong's and Goodman's claims at t h i s stage of the survey i s to clear the way for l a t e r arguments for j u s t i f i c a t i o n that do not r e l y on the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y of sensory reports. There are four arguments against the incor r i g i b i l i t y thesis by Armstrong in chapter II, and I s h a l l provide counter arguments to each one of them to show how the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist might be able to respond to Armstrong's charges. In chapter III I s h a l l consider two 3 arguments offered by Goodman against the certainty of sen-sory reports, and I s h a l l again indicate how the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist might be able to respond. Then, in chapter IV, I s h a l l introduce what appears to be, on f i r s t sight, our f i r s t alternative to the hard-line foundationalism of Lewis, without the commitment to a s t r i c t -ly coherentist view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . A. J. Ayer attempts to show that i t i s not implausible to hold that a sensory report can be f a c t u a l l y mistaken. But although he claims that the j u s t i f i c a t i o n process terminates with the accept-ance of some sensory report as true, he neglects to state the grounds for our acceptance of a sensory report as true, which must be something other than i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y . A pos-s i b l e ground for maintaining the foundational status of sen-sory reports without i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y might be the claim that they are always more certain than other kinds of statements. I s h a l l consider a position based on t h i s claim and intend to show that, even without i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y , t h i s would s t i l l be very much a t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalism. Chapter V examines the foundationalism of C. F. Delaney who claims that i n d i v i d u a l sensory reports are only prima f a c i e c e r t a i n . But i t i s his formulation of the foundation-a l r ole of sensory reports which shows that Delaney has at least one foot firmly in the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist camp. Although I am w i l l i n g to accept Delaney's claim that sensory reports are foundational, in the sense that a l l j u s t i -4 f i c a t i o n ends with some sensory report, I fi n d his account of the prima fa c i e certainty of the individual sensory re-port less convincing. In Chapter VI R. I. Sikora can be seen to have one foot in with the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist and the other in with the coherentist. Although he i s in agreement with a considerable part of the coherence view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n , he claims that sensory judgements can provide non-coherentist support for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s . But while I think that Sikora's view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s e s s e n t i a l l y the same as my own, I intend to show that his account of the epistem-i c support of sensations i s incomplete, and that i t needs something more than the bare claim that you are not separa-ted from your sensory experiences for i t to be a viable ac-count of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . I w i l l try to show l a t e r , in chap-ter IX, that sensations do play an important role in the acceptance of our b e l i e f s about them, i f they are seen as a source of c r e d i b i l i t y for our judgements about them. The subject of chapter VII w i l l be the r e l a t i v i z e d foundational account of D. B. Annis. This account marks a d e f i n i t e break with the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalism of Lewis, for Annis claims that statements other than sensory reports can be foundational. But since his claim i s based on the mere di s p o s i t i o n of individuals to make r e l i a b l e statements, without the requirement that we should have some evidence for such dispositions, I intend to show that merely having a certain d i s p o s i t i o n i s not s u f f i c i e n t to base even 5 a., r e l a t i v i z e d account of j u s t i f i c a t i o n on. There are some other problems with Annis's account and these w i l l be poin-ted out during the review of his position. Chapter VIII w i l l introduce the full-blooded coheren-tism of Michael Williams. Williams i s presented as the antithesis to Lewis's t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalism, for he denies even the p o s s i b i l i t y of any kind of foundational view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n , and t h i s puts him at the other end of the scale. Chapter VIII i s e s s e n t i a l l y a summary of his book Groundless B e l i e f , and of a subsequent journal publica-ti o n . Williams claims that there are no such things as i n t r i n -s i c a l l y credible b e l i e f s , and that a l l j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s a mat^ ter of having evidence that people are in a position to make r e l i a b l e statements. Since I largely disagree with Williams on the subject of j u s t i f i c a t i o n , I w i l l give an extensive c r i t i c i s m of his view in chapter IX. I s h a l l argue that p h i l o -sophers such as Williams, and his predecessor W i l f r i d S e l l a r s , take an impossibly narrow view of the theoreti c a l nature of j u s t i f i c a t i o n , and that knowledge can not get by without some b e l i e f s being at least to some extent not dependent on theory for t h e i r c r e d i b i l i t y . I hope to be able to show that, contra-ry to what Williams claims, sensations are more than t h e o r e t i -cal e n t i t i e s , and that they are reasons for finding our sensory reports to at least some extent i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible. 6 NOTES - INTRODUCTION "*"C. I. Lewis, "The Given Element in Empirical Knowledge," The Philosophical Review 61, No. 2 ( A p r i l 1952) 168-175. o C. F. Delaney, "Foundations of Empirical Knowledge Again," New Scholasticism 50 (1976) p. 8. 7 I C. I. Lewis: TRADITIONAL FOUNDATIONALISM C. I. Lewis claims that you cannot be mistaken, about the immediate content of a sensory experience. When you are having a sensory experience your senses present you with some-thing the nature of which you do not invent, and i t i s impos-s i b l e to be either in doubt or in error about the nature of your sensory experience. He claims that the only kind of mis-take you could possibly make about a current sensory experi-ence i s when you set out to describe the given content of an immediate sensory experience and f a i l to express i t correct-ly because you are using the wrong words to describe i t . But what we cannot be mistaken about i s what our language intends to convey in describing the given in experience, and t h i s does not include the assertion that we have used the correct words in describing i t . He holds that i t i s actually impos-s i b l e to l i m i t one's description to only the sensory content in a current experience. Whenever we use language to describe t h i s sensory content, we must generalize from past experience to imply that our description i s correct, and consequently our description takes us beyond what i s immediately given as the sensory content of a current experience, for the i m p l i c i t assertion that we have used language corr e c t l y i s based on facts not part of the current experience.''" He makes a sharp d i s t i n c t i o n between statements about the immediately given in a sensory experience and any other 8 kind of descriptive statement. He claims that statements about the immediately given in a sensory experience are not knowledge because, except for s l i p s of the tongue, you can-not be mistaken in your description of the given content of a sensory experience; but they could be true or fa l s e because i t i s always possible to t e l l l i e s about your sensory expe-rience. Statements about the given element in a sensory experience using such expressions as "looks l i k e " or "feels l i k e " do not intend to assert any objective r e a l i t y , but instead concern themselves with the immediate appearance of things. In contrast with such sensory reports, statements about physical objects are c o r r i g i b l e because they purport to assert the objective r e a l i t y of the world,by means of such 2 expressions as "t h i s i s an A", or "I see what i s a B". Because he believes that you cannot be mistaken about the immediate content of a sensory experience, Lewis claims that sensory reports are foundational to knowledge, since only i f you can be absolutely certain about something i s i t possible to have genuine p r o b a b i l i t i e s in empirical knowledge. He holds that the prob a b i l i t y of b e l i e f s cannot be supported by other b e l i e f s which are only probable themselves, and that unless we have absolutely certain b e l i e f s the process of j u s t -3 i f i c a t i o n ends up being c i r c u l a r or as an i n f i n i t e regress. Although Lewis claims that the prob a b i l i t y of b e l i e f s cannot be supported by anything other than absolutely cer-t a i n b e l i e f s , he claims elsewhere that our memory reports 9 can support each other in spite of the fact that none of 4 them are absolutely certain. I do not see how he can hold both claims without contradicting himself. Lewis never makes i t e n t i r e l y clear whether the foun-dations of knowledge consist of statements about the im-mediately given in experience or of the given element in a sensory experience i t s e l f . If he should hold that the foun-dation of empirical knowledge consists of. the given element in experience i t s e l f , he does not have the proper sort of foundation because the only sort of thing that could provide support for a statement in need of j u s t i f i c a t i o n would be another statement. If, on the other hand, he holds that the foundation of empirical knowledge consists Qf statements about the immediately given content of our sensory experiences he has the right kind of foundation, but then i t can be argued that such statements are not absolutely certain. There appears to be l i t t l e doubt, however, that Lewis, i f pressed, would hold that the statements about the im-mediately given in our sensory experiences are the founda-tions of our empirical knowledge of the world. In spite of the fact that he seems to make the claim that statements about the immediately given in experience are not to be classed as knowledge, his repeated emphasis on the need to d istinguish between such statements and any other kind of descriptive statement leaves l i t t l e doubt that he would hold that our immediate sensory reports have epistemic p r i -10 o r i t y in the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s . Since he holds that our sensory reports cannot be in error in what they are about, they would provide the absolute stopping points in the j u s t i -f i c a t i o n of a l l our other b e l i e f s about the world. Lewis does not seem to have recognized the d i s t i n c t i o n between (a) the p o s s i b i l i t y of being mistaken in the appre-hension of a sensory experience, and (b) the p o s s i b i l i t y of having a mistaken b e l i e f about a sensory experience. The im p o s s i b i l i t y of being mistaken in the apprehension of a sen-sory experience i s no doubt a l o g i c a l one, i f by apprehending an experience we simply mean "having a sensory experience". But there i s no such guarantee attached to the b e l i e f s we have about our sensory experiences, and hence there can be no l o g i c a l l y i n c o r r i g i b l e account of our sensory experience because the sensory experience and the b e l i e f based upon i t are l o g i c a l l y d i s t i n c t e n t i t i e s , so that i t i s at least log-i c a l l y possible to have a mistaken b e l i e f about an immediate 5 sensory experience. NOTES - CHAPTER I. """C. I. Lewis, An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation, (La S a l l e , 111.: Open Court Publishing Comp., 1946) pp.182-83. 2 I b i d . , p. 183. 3 I b i d . , p. 186. 4 I b i d . , p. 362. 5 For a general l i n e of c r i t i c i s m which u t i l i z e s the d i s t i n c t i o n between sensations and b e l i e f s about sensations see ch. V, "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" in W i l f r i d S e l l a r s ' s Science, Perception and Reality (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963) and ch. II,"The Appeal to the Given" in Michael Williams's Groundless B e l i e f (New Haven: Yale Univer-s i t y Press, 1977). 1 2 II D. M. Armstrong: ARGUMENTS AGAINST INCORRIGIBILITY The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist would hold that state-ments about our immediate sensory experiences are absolutely i n c o r r i g i b l e and indubitable except for l i e s and occasional s l i p s of the tongue. D. M. Armstrong gives four arguments in order to show that the absolute i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y of sen-sory reports i s something which cannot be maintained.''" The f i r s t two arguments are designed to show that you can cast some doubt on the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist's i n c o r r i g i -b i l i t y thesis. The f i r s t argument does t h i s by showing that since statements about our past sensory experiences cannot be absolutely i n c o r r i g i b l e , that i t i s highly u n l i k e l y that statements about our current sensory experiences are absolut-ely i n c o r r i g i b l e . If I state that I f e l t a pain a few seconds ago, we can imagine a case where such a sensory report would be f a l s e because some brain-technician has secretly tampered with my brain, and he has given me the ostensive memory that I f e l t a pain a few seconds ago when, in fact, I did not f e e l such a pain at that time. The mere fact, Armstrong claims, that we can conceive such a case establishes at least the l o g i c a l p o s s i b i l i t y of a f i r s t person report being mistaken about a past sensory experience. He finds t h i s a good enough reason for suspect-13 i n g the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y t h e s i s , f o r even i f our sensory experience l i e s only the merest f r a c t i o n of a second i n the past, i t i s i n t e l l i g i b l e t o say that our account of i t c o u l d have been mistaken; and i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o see how the merest f r a c t i o n of a second can change the l o g i c a l s t a t u s of a f i r s t person experience r e p o r t from being i n -2 c o r r i g i b l e t o being c o r r i g i b l e . But the t r a d i t i o n a l f o u n d a t i o n a l i s t c o u l d r e p l y t o Armstrong t h a t , on the grounds that t o have a sensory ex-pe r i e n c e i s not the same as to have had one i n the past, as long as your sensory r e p o r t a p p l i e s to your c u r r e n t ex-pe r i e n c e , i t does not i n any way f o l l o w that i t might be mistaken because your memory of a past experience was mis-taken. Armstrong's second argument cashes i n on the po i n t made i n h i s f i r s t example a g a i n s t the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y t h e s i s : t h a t i t i s c o n c e i v a b l e t h a t we can make a mistake i n d e s c r i b -i n g a sensory experience we have had i n the pas t . If I s t a t e that I am i n pai n now, to what p e r i o d of time does the word "now" r e f e r t o? Is i t not the case t h a t , by the time I f i n i s h the statement that I am i n pai n now, I am merely remembering what my experience was l i k e at the be-g i n n i n g of the statement? And hence, i s i t not p o s s i b l e that I might have made a mistake i n d e s c r i b i n g my sensory e x p e r i -ence? Armstrong c l a i m s that the t r a d i t i o n a l f o u n d a t i o n a l i s t needs something l i k e an " i n t r o s p e c t i v e i n s t a n t " i n order t o 14 give an account of what the word "now" refers to. He sug-gests that the introspective instant would be the smallest unit of time di s c e r n i b l e within a current sensory experi-ence. A sensory report would be i n c o r r i g i b l e , then, only insofar as i t described the immediate introspective instant, and i t would be c o r r i g i b l e the moment the introspective instant has been replaced by the next introspective instant. Since an introspective instant i s but a f l e e t i n g moment in time, i t i s physically - i f not t h e o r e t i c a l l y - impossible to complete the statement that I am in pain now within that b r i e f period of time, and hence i t i s i n t e l l i g i b l e to say that the statement could have been mistaken because the i n -trospective instant i t describes i s already part of the past. But the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist can give a perfect-ly good account of what the word "now" refers to, in terms of the specious present, and without having to rely on such things as "introspective instants" to make t h i s concept i n -t e l l i g i b l e . But suppose, then, that your sensory report i s unusually long, and that before you are able to f i n i s h your report the p a r t i c u l a r sensory experience i t referred to i s no longer part of the specious present. In that case your report i s r e a l l y an account of a past experience, and might be mistaken, because you had to rely on your memory for as long as i t took you to f i n i s h your report of i t . Armstrong's following two arguments are designed to show that f i r s t person experience reports cannot be absolut-ely i n c o r r i g i b l e . The t h i r d argument presents the claim 15 that i f i t i s impossible to describe your immediate sen-sory experience i n c o r r e c t l y , then i t makes no sense to say that you have described i t cor r e c t l y . Armstrong claims that to describe something i s to c l a s s i f y i t by means of applying concepts to i t . He sug-gests that i t i s meaningless to say that you are applying concepts to describe something i f i t i s absolutely impos-s i b l e to apply them i n c o r r e c t l y . He holds that the notion of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s only i n t e l l i g i b l e i f i t i s at least possible to apply concepts i n c o r r e c t l y and to misclassify something. He concludes that for t h i s reason our sensory reports cannot be i n c o r r i g i b l e : because i t renders the 4 notion of a correct description quite meaningless. However, i t i s not at a l l clear why the notion of c l a s -s i f i c a t i o n should become meaningless in the event that i t should be impossible to describe something i n c o r r e c t l y . It seems to me that i f to c l a s s i f y something i s to apply con-cepts to something, then t h i s i s always i n t e l l i g i b l e regard-less of whether there are cases where i t would be impossible to apply concepts i n c o r r e c t l y . The way in which Armstrong presents t h i s claim here amounts to l i t t l e more than the bare suggestion that " c l a s s i f i c a t i o n " always implies the p o s s i b i l -i t y of " m i s c l a s s i f i c a t i o n " , but t h i s i s not plausible i f you do not back i t up with an explanation to show that t h i s i s necessarily the case. Moreover, defenders of the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y thesis are not committed to the claim that you cannot describe your im-16 mediate sensory experiences i n c o r r e c t l y , for i t i s always possible to l i e about them. Armstrong's fourth and f i n a l argument against the t r a -d i t i o n a l foundationalist's i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y thesis depends on Hume's argument about d i f f e r e n t existences. Since the sensory report and the immediate sensory experience i t i s about are d i s t i n c t e n t i t i e s , i t would be l o g i c a l l y possible to make a sensory report while the experience i t i s about did not e x i s t . And should t h i s be the case, the report would surely be mistaken about the sensory experience i t i s 5 supposed to be reporting on. Armstrong's point i s that we should recognize the d i s -t i n c t i o n between being in a certain mental state and being  aware that one i s in a certain mental state, in the sense of believing that one i s in that state. Given t h i s d i s t i n c -t i o n , i t would be possible to conceive of certain mental states e x i s t i n g in the absence of any mental awareness of i t , and vice versa. But the question i s then whether the t r a d i t i o n a l foun-d a t i o n a l i s t would have to accept such a d i s t i n c t i o n . He could claim that being in pain i s the same thing as being aware that one i s in pain, and that you cannot make a l o g i -c a l d i s t i n c t i o n between the two. He could accuse Armstrong of being q u i l t y of f a l s e abstraction. But Armstrong contends that the apprehension of some-thing must be d i f f e r e n t from the thing apprehended. If this were not the case, having a pain l o g i c a l l y involves the appre-17 hension of pain and he views t h i s as a l o g i c a l c i r c u l a -r i t y . The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist may f i n d further re-course here by claiming that although i t may be l o g i c a l l y possible for a sensory report to be mistaken, that i t i s nevertheless physically impossible to be mistaken about your current sensory experiences. This position may prove d i f f i c u l t and perhaps even impossible to defend, but i t would be a coherent p o s i t i o n . Armstrong considers the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist's objection that, i f our immediate sensory reports are not guaranteed i n c o r r i g i b l e , we cannot claim that such reports present any r e a l knowledge to us because there are no ways of checking whether we have corre c t l y i d e n t i f i e d our sen-sory experiences. He suggests that our sensory reports do not have to be guaranteed i n c o r r i g i b l e i f we are to consider them as knowledge. He believes, f i r s t l y , that there are some rough and ready ways of checking one's sensory reports, either through the observation of one's behaviour by oneself or by others; secondly, we know by and large that sensory re-ports do y i e l d us r e l i a b l e information i n spite of the fact that we seem to be unable to provide exact reasons for think-ing so. And t h i s i s the place where reason stops he claims; after a l l "reasons have to stop somewhere, sooner or l a t e r " . 18 NOTES - CHAPTER II. ''"D. M. Armstrong, "Is Introspective Knowledge In c o r r i -gible?" Philosophical Review 72 (October 1963) 417-32. 2 I b i d . , p. 420. 3 I b i d . , p. 421. 4 I b i d . , p. 422. 5 I b i d . , p. 423. 6 I b i d . , p. 428. 19 III Nelson Goodman: ARGUMENTS AGAINST INCORRIGIBILITY The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist's position has been attacked by Nelson Goodman who questions C. I. Lewis's claim that sensory reports are always certain, and the claim that they must be certain for any statement to be rendered probable. The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist would hold that sensory reports are always i n c o r r i g i b l e and beyond doubt, barring s l i p s of the tongue and l i e s , because he be-lie v e s i t impossible to be mistaken about the content of one's immediate sensory experience. Goodman questions Lewis's b e l i e f that sensory reports are always i n c o r r i g i b l e and beyond doubt by claiming that they are often withdrawn for good reason.^ He gives two examples to support his claim. If I make the statement that I have a phenomenally red image and follow t h i s immediately with the statement that now have a phenomenally blue image, and I also maintain that no change in colour occurred between the two images, then i t would seem necessary to drop one of the three statements for reasons of compatibility. A second reason for re j e c t i n g a sensory report i s a c o n f l i c t with state-ments about physical objects. If I make the statement that I have a phenomenally red image, and I am looking at a bluebird in bright sunlight with my eyes functioning normally, I would 20 have to conclude that I could not have had t h i s phenomenally red image after a l l . In either example, i t appears unlikely that a s l i p of the tongue could be made responsible for what seem to be incorrect statements of immediate sensory content. A t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist could argue that when sensory reports are doubted at some l a t e r time, t h i s does not prevent them from being certain at the time they were made. Goodman responds to t h i s claim by pointing to a confusion about the meaning of "certainty". If "certainty" means knowledge with-out the p o s s i b i l i t y of error, then t h i s would imply that a sensory report i s beyond re v i s i o n for whatever cause. Conse-quently, such a statement cannot be certain when i t i s made i f one should also be j u s t i f i e d to a l t e r i t at some, l a t e r moment. Lewis thought that the denial of empirical certainty implied that there i s no given element in experience, and that t h i s would suggest that experience and knowledge are but w i l l f u l inventions. But Goodman contends that the denial of empirical c e r t a i n t i e s does not automatically commit one to the claim that there i s nothing given in experience. The bare fact i s that the term "certainty" simply would not apply to what Lewis has described as the given element in experience. If what i s given are such things as sensory q u a l i t i e s or events, the application of such terms as "true", " f a l s e " or "ce r t a i n " makes as much sense as to apply them to such things as desks and chairs. His point i s c l e a r l y that while our judgements may be certain, or true or f a l s e , these terms do 21 not apply to the very objects our judgements are about.~ A t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist such as Lewis would hold that the existence of empirical p r o b a b i l i t i e s necessarily requires the existence of empirical c e r t a i n t i e s . Goodman denies t h i s l o g i c a l requirement for probable knowledge while agreeing that a chain of p r o b a b i l i t i e s must end somewhere in order to have any p r o b a b i l i t y at a l l . Instead, he contends that i n i t i a l c r e d i b i l i t y i s a l l that i s necessary for know-ledge to be probable. When a statement i s i n i t i a l l y credible, i t serves as an anchoring point for the c r e d i b i l i t y of other statements, yet such anchoring statements are themselves not immune from withdrawal. I n i t i a l l y credible statements may be dropped when they c o n f l i c t with other statements, in order to s a t i s f y as well as possible the t o t a l i t y of claims presented 3 by a l l relevant statements. The question i s then whether the t r a d i t i o n a l foundation-a l i s t can have any recourse to counter Goodman's claim that sensory reports are often uncertain,, and that one could not reasonably plead a s l i p of the tongue in either of the two examples he has given in support of his claim. In the f i r s t example, incompatibility between sensory reports i s given as a reason for withdrawing such statements. Assuming that l i e s and improper use of language are ruled out,the objection can be made that i t i s unl i k e l y that such a case would ever occur. Moreover, even i f i t did occur, one would have good grounds for questioning the a b i l i t y of the maker of these reports to t e l l one colour from another. The difference between the c o l -ours red and blue i s under normal conditions of percep-tion obvious enough to prevent anyone from saying that no change in colour took place between the two phenomenal images. A supporter of Lewis could argue that one could not even begin to question the certainty of these state-ments unless i t i s clear that the maker of these statements i s able to t e l l one d i s t i n c t i v e colour from another. But i f we also require that there should be good evidence that the person i s capable of distinguishing the colours red from blue, the example loses c r e d i b i l i t y since i t would be d i f f i -c u l t to suppose that such a case should ever occur. A more plausible example in support of Goodman's claim might be based on the claim that our sensory judgements can be affected by our b e l i e f s about them. It has been claimed that I can be led to believe that I am touched with some-thing very hot when I am in fact touched with an icecube. If my claim i s that, although I f i r s t reported to have the sensation of being burned, but that I now believe that I am touched with something very cold, and i f I then also claim that no change occurred between the sensations of hot and cold, i t would seem necessary to drop one of the three state ments for reasons of compatibility. In the second example, a c o n f l i c t between a sensory report and a physical object statement i s a reason for ques-tioning the certainty of the former. But an objection simi-l a r to the one made to the f i r s t example would seem to apply 2 3 that i t i s extremely u n l i k e l y that such a case would a c t u -a l l y occur. Proponents of Lewis's view h o l d i n g a c a u s a l view of p e r c e p t i o n c o u l d c l a i m t h a t s i n c e b l u e o b j e c t s cause one t o p e r c e i v e phenomenally blue images under normal c o n d i t i o n s , i t i s almost i n c o n c e i v a b l e that one should c l a i m t o have a phenomenally red image. Even i f t h i s were a l l e g e d t o be the case, some evidence would seem necessary to e s t a -b l i s h whether a person i s normally capable of d i s t i n g u i s h -i n g between the c o l o u r s red and blue, and that he d i d not use red i n a sense which i s d i f f e r e n t from our sense of the term " r e d " ... that he d i d not use i t i n a sense which would i n c l u d e anything that was e i t h e r red or blue i n our sense of these terms. But i f we demand t h i s k i n d of evidence i t seems h i g h l y u n l i k e l y that such a case would a c t u a l l y occur; and i t i s u n l i k e l y that a f o l l o w e r of Lewis would change h i s mind about e m p i r i c a l c e r t a i n t y u n l e s s he i s presented with a more p l a u s i b l e case a g a i n s t i t . 24 NOTES - CHAPTER III. """Nelson Goodman, "Sense and Certainty," in Emperical  Knowledge: Readings from Contemporary Sources, ed. R. M. Chisholm and R J. Swartz (Englewood C l i f f s , New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1973) pp. 360-63. 2 I b i d . , p. 362. 3 I b i d . , p. 363. 2 5 IV A. J. Ayer: TRADITIONAL FOUNDATIONALISM WITHOUT INCORRIGIBILITY The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist claims that you cannot be f a c t u a l l y mistaken about the immediate content of a sen-sory experience, but A. J. Ayer claims that there are cases where a factual mistake about what Lewis c a l l s "the given" seems at least p l a u s i b l e . 1 The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist does not deny that you can make a mistake in describing the given, but the conten-tion i s that such mistakes are always verbal. If I am i n doubt whether something looks crimson to me when I look at i t and resolve t h i s doubt i n c o r r e c t l y , i t i s only because I am not sure whether "crimson" i s the proper word to des-cribe i t , and not because I have a mistaken b e l i e f about my sensory experience. The assumption behind t h i s i s that to understand the meaning of a word one must know how to apply i t , and i f I hesitate whether to use i t in a given case i t shows that I am uncertain of i t s meaning. The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist claims that you can only make a factual mistake i f your present sensory experi-ence leads you to certain expectations which are not f u l -f i l l e d . If I make the prediction that something not yet part of my present sensory experience i s going to look crim-son and i t does not, my use of the word "crimson" may have 26 been c o r r e c t although my e x p e c t a t i o n d i d not come true i n f a c t . In such cases, one goes beyond the d e s c r i p t i o n of the present content of the sensory experience and i n c l u d e s f a c t s which are not pa r t of the c o r r e c t sensory experience. Some p h i l o s o p h e r s have argued that i t i s imp o s s i b l e to d e s c r i b e even a momentary sensory experience without i n c l u d -i n g f a c t s not p a r t of the c o r r e c t experience, because even the most elementary d e s c r i p t i o n of something i n v o l v e s a 2 c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i n terms of i t s r e l a t i o n ;ot other t h i n g s . Ayer i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s c l a i m with the f o l l o w i n g example. I f I say t h a t what I seem to see i s crimson, i t i s as i f I am sa y i n g t hat i t has an a p p r o p r i a t e resemblance i n c o l o u r to c e r t a i n other o b j e c t s which are a l s o crimson, and i f i t does not so resemble them I appear to have made a f a c t u a l mistake. The t r a d i t i o n a l f o u n d a t i o n a l i s t contends that from the mere statement t h a t t h i s looks crimson, i t cannot be deduced that anything e l s e i s crimson or even e x i s t s , and that as a con-sequence the r e f e r e n c e t o these o t h e r o b j e c t s has no b e a r i n g on the f a c t u a l accuracy of my present statement that t h i s l ooks crimson. We should note, however, that i n t h i s example of the t r a d i t i o n a l f o u n d a t i o n a l i s t ' s c l a i m Ayer seems t o suggest t h a t from a p h y s i c a l o b j e c t statement we cannot conclude the e x i s t e n c e of other p h y s i c a l o b j e c t s and then use t h i s as evidence that the statement i s c o r r e c t . But s i n c e h i s argument concerns o n l y the present content of a sensory 27 experience, and not the object of perception, i t i s neces-sary to restate his example in terms of the phenomenal con-tent of a sensory experience. If I say that I have a phen-omenally crimson image one might i n f e r that I have experi-enced s i m i l a r images in the past, and that the image I have now resembles these other images appropriately with respect to t h e i r colour; and i f my present image does not so resem-ble them, i t can be claimed that I made a factual mistake. But the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist i s l i k e l y to contend that, from the mere statement that I have a phenomenally crimson image, i t cannot be inferred that I have had such images before, and so the reference to my other phenomenal images has no bearing on the factual accuracy of my sensory report that I now have a phenomenally crimson image. Ayer interprets the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist as say-ing that since descriptions of the present content of a sen-sory experience contain no e x p l i c i t reference to things out-side the current experience, any mistake in the description of the given can only be due to a misuse of language. And t h i s could create the impression that descriptions of the given may yet r e f e r i m p l i c i t l y to these other things. It appears, though, that the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist speci-f i c a l l y r e j e c t s the very suggestion that in describing the given one might possibly imply the existence of other things, whether e x p l i c i t l y or i m p l i c i t l y . The contention i s that from the fact that I have to refer to these other things to show that my description of the given i s correct, i t does not f o l -28 low t h a t my d e s c r i p t i o n i t s e l f r e f e r s to them. Ayer ques-t i o n s t h i s r u l i n g , but does not d i r e c t l y a t t a c k i t . Instead, he g i v e s an example which would show that a f a c t u a l mistake about the given might s t i l l be p o s s i b l e without having to depend on f a c t s o u t s i d e the c u r r e n t sensory experience to 3 show that the mistake was made. Suppose t h a t two l i n e s of approximately the same le n g t h are w i t h i n my f i e l d of v i s i o n , and that I must decide which of the two looks the longer l i n e . I f I am at a l l unsure which i s the longer l i n e , i t i s u n l i k e l y t h a t t h i s stems from any doubt I may have about the meaning of the E n g l i s h e x p r e s s i o n " l o o k s longer than". It i s not as i f I al r e a d y knew the answer but cannot immediately say i t becaus I must s t a t e i t i n French, and I am not sure whether "pl u s longue" or "plus l a r g e " i s the a p p r o p r i a t e e x p r e s s i o n . I t i s j u s t t h a t I am not sure which, as a matter of f a c t , i s the longer l o o k i n g l i n e . But i f I can be i n doubt about t h i s matter of f a c t , i t i s e a s i l y c o n c e i v a b l e that I make the wrong d e c i s i o n and s t a t e t h a t A looks longer than B when i n f a c t i t does not. T h i s example hinges on the d i s t i n c t i o n between the way t h i n g s look and the way I may judge them t o look. But i f we al l o w f o r the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t we can be u n c e r t a i n about how t h i n g s may look to us, we have a l r e a d y admitted to t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n because we have drawn a l i n e between matters of f a c t and our d e s c r i p t i o n of them. Ayer c o n s i d e r s the p o s s i b l e o b j e c t i o n that i t makes no sense t o speak of a mistake here because i t can never be d i s -covered. No sensory experience can be reproduced for r e i n -spection, and no tests for discovering the mistake are pos-s i b l e . But he believes that there may be i n d i r e c t evidence for the mistake. I could look at the l i n e s again and decide that now B looks longer than A, and although t h i s need not prove that I was wrong before, I may have in d i r e c t physio-l o g i c a l evidence that t h e i r appearance to me has not changed And i f we assume that under relevant conditions things look the same to other people, I may take t h e i r disagreement with my report as i n d i r e c t evidence for the p o s s i b i l i t y that I 4 was f a c t u a l l y mistaken about my sensory experience. Ayer then claims that the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s does not need the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y of sensory reports, and that the j u s t i f i c a t i o n process terminates with the acceptance of 5 a sensory report as true. He rejects the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y requirement of sensory reports by saying that i t i s l o g i c -a l l y impossible to have the guarantee that you are not mis-taken i n accepting the truth of such a report. This i s based on the d i s t i n c t i o n made e a r l i e r : that we can draw a l i n e between the facts and our judgement of them. Accord-ingly, we should di s t i n g u i s h between having a sensory experi ence and knowing that one has i t . Our sensory experiences are always v e r i d i c a l , but our judgements of them w i l l be f a l l i b l e because there i s no necessary connection between the two. But i f there i s a l o g i c a l gap between having a Sensory experience and knowing that one has i t , one could claim that 30 you c o u l d have a l l s o r t s of sensory experiences and never know anything about them. Ayer would respond t o t h i s by c l a i m i n g that i t i s e x c e p t i o n a l f o r us not to know what k i n d of sensory experience we have when we do have i t . A l l that i s r e q u i r e d i s that we should be able to g i v e an ac-count of our c u r r e n t experiences which i s both c o n f i d e n t and c o r r e c t , and these c o n d i t i o n s are f r e q u e n t l y f u l f i l l e d . J u s t because we cannot have a guarantee that we have c o r r e c t -l y i d e n t i f i e d our sensory experiences should not l e a d us i n -to t h i n k i n g that we never c o r r e c t l y i d e n t i f y our c u r r e n t ex-pe r i e n c e . There i s no reason t o doubt, Ayer holds, that we c o r r e c t l y i d e n t i f y the m a j o r i t y of our sensory exp e r i e n c e s . And to t h i n k that you have c o r r e c t l y i d e n t i f i e d your present experience i s a s u f f i c i e n t c o n d i t i o n f o r the j u s t i f i c a t i o n p r o cess t o terminate, i n s p i t e of the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t you 6 may have a mistaken b e l i e f about that sensory experience. At t h i s p o i n t i t can be s a i d , then, that Ayer appears t o support a v e r s i o n of f o u n d a t i o n a l i s m which holds that our knowledge i s at bottom supported by our b e l i e f s about our sensory experiences, and that such b e l i e f s are prima f a c i e i n d u b i t a b l e - but not i n c o r r i g i b l e . The q u e s t i o n i s whether a f o u n d a t i o n a l account of j u s t i f i c a t i o n can be based on the mere acceptance of our sensory r e p o r t s as t r u e . I t seems t o me that i n order t o accept something as t r u e , u n l e s s you c l a i m that something i s i n t r i n s i c a l l y c r e d i b l e , you must have a good reason f o r doing so. 31 Since Ayer leaves us in the dark with respect to the epistemic grounds for accepting our sensory reports, I s h a l l consider, instead, a kind of foundationalism which does not depend on the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y of sensory reports, but which maintains the epistemic p r i o r i t y of such reports on the grounds that they are more certain than any other kind of descriptive statement. I am not a t t r i b u t i n g t h i s position to Ayer, although he seems to suggest something of the sort in the following: Statements which do no more than describe the content of a momentary, private experience achieve the g r e a t s est security because they run the smallest r i s k . But they do run some r i s k , however small, and because of t h i s they too can come to g r i e f . ? Now t h i s passage might be interpreted as saying that sensory reports, although f a l l i b l e , are always more certain than other kinds of statements, e.g. memory claims or phys-i c a l object statements. Again, I do not think that Ayer would in fact sanction such a claim, but I want to consider a version of foundationalism which i s underpinned by t h i s claim. On the face of i t , such a position would present a r e a l a l t e r n a t i v e to Lewis's foundationalism, because the claim that sensory reports are more certain would ensure the favoured epistemic status of sensory reports without needing the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y thesis for support. In order to show that such a position would amount to only a small retreat from t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalism, I want to consider seven claims which have been i d e n t i f i e d 32 by Rescher as being central to t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalism. 1. On the F/I ( f o u n d a t i o n a l i s t / i n d u c t i v i s t ) approach there are two d i s t i n c t sorts of truths, the immed-iate and the derivative, while for the coherentist a l l truth is' of one piece. ® This claim would seem to refer to the t r a d i t i o n a l foun-d a t i o n a l i s t ' s d i s t i n c t i o n between basic b e l i e f s which are independently cert a i n , and b e l i e f s whose certainty or, more l i k e l y , p r o b a b i l i t y , depends on the support of these basic b e l i e f s . If one holds that our sensory reports are always more certain, one would in fact be admitting to t h i s d i s -t i n c t i o n since i t would mean that the certainty of our sen-sory reports cannot be challenged by any other statement; and t h i s would j u s t i f y us in a t t r i b u t i n g the same epistemic role to them as saying that our sensory reports are indepen-dently certain. 2. On the F/I approach experience i s c a l l e d upon to pro-vide truths ( i . e . immediately evident truths) while for the coherentist i t only provides raw data.^ It would seem that by "immediately evident truths" Rescher i s r e f e r r i n g to the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist's assumption that the certainty of sensory reports cannot be challenged. In holding that our sensory reports are c o r r i g -i b l e , one could reject the claim that our sensory experiences provide us with immediately evident truths. But the problem i s that the claim that our sensory re-ports are c o r r i g i b l e i s l e f t without any r e a l consequence, for the r e l i a b i l i t y of such reports cannot be d i r e c t l y chal-33 lenged by any other kind of statement i f i t i s held that such statements are always less certain than sensory re-ports. One could at most suspect the truth of a sensory report, since i t i s not implausible that such a report could be mistaken. The question i s then whether the mere p l a u s i b i l i t y of mistaken sensory reports i s in i t s e l f s u f f i c i e n t to defeat the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist's claim that we cannot ques-tion the certainty of sensory reports. It would seem to me that someone could be a t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist while admitting that sensory reports could in p r i n c i p l e be mis-taken about the immediate sensory content of a current ex-perience, but claim that t h i s i s merely a moot point given the fact that i t i s actually impossible to show that a sen-sory report i s mistaken. 3. On the F/I approach a l l discursive -inductive or deductive - processes require an imput of truth i f truths are to be an output (which i s exactly why an immediate, non-discursive route to truth must be postulated). The coherentist analysis d i f f e r s funda-mentally in t h i s regard.10 Here Rescher i s presumably r e f e r r i n g to the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist's claim that, unless some statements are cer-t a i n , no objective truth i s even probable. If the t r a d i t i o n -a l foundationalist demands the absolute certainty of founda-t i o n a l statements, one could reject t h i s claim on the grounds that although they are more certain than other kinds of state-ments, they are not i n c o r r i g i b l e ; but i f the t r a d i t i o n a l foun-d a t i o n a l i s t i s w i l l i n g to s e t t l e for prima f a c i e certainty, a supporter of the claim that sensory reports are more cer-ta i n would have to go along with t h i s t h i r d claim. 4. On the F/I approach the i n i t i a l "givens" are wholly non-discursive and fixed variants, while on the co-herence approach the data represents a mixture of experiental and discursive elements. And thus, the non-discursive "raw" data are, for the coherentist, only part of the t o t a l data; they are by no means fixed and sacred but subject to reappraisal and re-v i s i o n . 11 The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist holds that the given in a sensory experience cannot be reinterpreted once i t has been i d e n t i f i e d as the content of a sensory experience. Ayer has shown that you can be s u f f i c i e n t l y in doubt about your immediate sensory experience that i t i s at least plaus-i b l e that you can be mistaken about i t . A supporter of the position I am considering could reject t h i s t r a d i t i o n a l foun d a t i o n a l i s t claim on the basis that one could revise one's judgement of the given in a sensory experience i f one i s not immediately sure about the nature of the experience. He would have to hold, though, that when you are confident of your judgement about your sensory experience, that even when you have other b e l i e f s which could make you doubt your judge ment, t h i s would never be an adequate reason for r e j e c t i n g your judgement. 5. On the F/I approach nothing whatever that happens at the epistemically l a t e r stages of the analysis can pos-s i b l y affect the starting-point of basic truths while on the coherentist approach there i s a feedback loop through which the data themselves can be conditioned by the outcome of a coherence analysis (in other con-text) and t h e i r status i s subject to reevaluation in the l i g h t of new insights regarding t h e i r p l a u s i b i l i t y . 35 The t r a d i t i o n a l f o u n d a t i o n a l i s t holds that a sensory r e p o r t cannot be questioned at a l a t e r date, even i f i t i s claimed that i t c o u l d have been mistaken. I f one should h o l d that our sensory r e p o r t s are always more c e r t a i n than any other k i n d of d e s c r i p t i v e statement, one would not be able t o d i s a g r e e with the t r a d i t i o n a l f o u n d a t i o n a l i s t at t h i s p o i n t . The f o l l o w i n g example might i l l u s t r a t e t h i s . Suppose you are l o o k i n g at two l i n e s drawn on a p i e c e of paper i n f r o n t of you. The f i r s t time you look at them they appear to be equal i n l e n g t h , but when you look at them a second time they appear t o be d i f f e r e n t i n l e n g t h . It would appear that t h e r e are fou r e r r o r s that c o u l d have been made, and i t would be i n t e r e s t i n g to determine which e r r o r someone h o l d i n g the p o s i t i o n c o u l d admit t o . The f o u r pos-s i b l e e r r o r s a re: 1. Your l a s t sensory r e p o r t i s mistaken. 2. Your e a r l i e r sensory r e p o r t i s mistaken. 3. Your memory of your e a r l i e r sensory r e p o r t i s mistaken. 4. Your b e l i e f s i n regard t o p h y s i c a l o b j e c t s c o u l d be mistaken; e.g. that the l i n e s on the sheet of paper cannot change without anyone chang-ing them; or that the sheet of paper on which the l i n e s appear c o u l d not have been r e p l a c e d by another sheet of paper without anyone making the replacement. Anyone s a n c t i o n i n g the c l a i m that sensory r e p o r t s are 36 always more certain than physical object statements would be prevented from claiming that either of the two sensory reports was incorrect. In order to remain consistent with t h i s position, one would have the option of challenging the memory claim as an alternative to challenging the physical object statements involved. 6. Unlike the F/I approach the coherence analysis does not require a sharp d i s p a r i t y in the treatment of par-t i c u l a r and general propositions ("observation state-ments" and "laws").13 I assume that by "observation statements" Rescher means sensory reports, and that by "laws" he may be r e f e r r i n g to either laws about physical objects, or to laws c o r r e l a t i n g various kinds of sensory experiences. If one i s committed to the claim that sensory reports are always more certain than statements about physical objects, one would be making a d i s t i n c t i o n between general and p a r t i c u l a r propositions in terms of t h e i r certainty. 7. On the F/I approach the body of "evidence" from which the reasoning proceeds must be self-consistent. The coherence analysis has no need for t h i s u n r e a l i s t i c supposition.I 4 A proponent of the claim that sensory reports are a l -ways more certain than other kinds of statements would not be committed to the claim that sensory reports must always be i n complete agreement with each other in order to serve as the basis for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of other b e l i e f s . If some current sensory reports are in c o n f l i c t with each other, one of them might be rejected on the basis of another, and 37 i f not a l l of them were current, one could drop a previous sensory report in favour of a more recent one. I would conclude, then, that a foundationalism based on the claim that our sensory reports, although f a l l i b l e , are always more certain would not constitute much of a re-treat from Lewis's hard-line foundationalism. It would appear that anyone supporting such a foundationalism would be committed to at least f i v e of the seven claims attributed to t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalism, so that the kind of position I have been considering here i s s t i l l very much a t r a d i t i o n - a l kind of foundationalism. But the problem w i l l be how to support the assertion that sensory reports, although c o r r i g i b l e , are always more certain than other kinds of descriptive statements. The claim that our sensory reports are always more certain than other kinds of statements i s obviously f a l s e , i f i t i s held that t h i s i s so even when the person making the sensory claim i s in some important way prevented from making a r e l i a b l e statement about his or her current sensory experiences. It would be d i f f i c u l t to maintain that, even when a sensory report i s made by a drunk or by someone who i s perceptually handicapped, i t i s s t i l l more certain than any other kind of empirical claim. It could be held, though, that t h i s objection only re-quires a small retreat which does not affect the foundation-a l status of most sensory reports, because such reports are more certain when they are made by standard observers under 38 standard c o n d i t i o n s of p e r c e p t i o n . But the r e t r e a t would be more s u b s t a n t i a l than i t appears to be. For now we must r e l y on statements about the world i n f o r m i n g us what such standard o b s e r v e r s and c o n d i t i o n s would be l i k e , and whether or not a sensory r e p o r t was made w i t h i n these s t a n d a r d i z e d l i m i t s of p e r c e p t i o n . And i f one should h o l d that such statements are i n v a r i a b l y l e s s c e r t a i n than our sensory r e p o r t s , these r e p o r t s cannot be f o u n d a t i o n a l i f t h e i r c e r t a i n t y i s dependent on statements about the world which are a l l e g e d t o be always l e s s c e r t a i n than these r e p o r t s . . The suggestion that our sensory r e p o r t s are always more c e r t a i n than any other d e s c r i p t i v e statement c o u l d a l s o not be supported by the c l a i m that our sensory e x p e r i -ences are always e a s i e r to judge or d e s c r i b e . Ayer's e a r l -i e r example of a sensory judgement i n v o l v i n g two l i n e s of s i m i l a r l e n g t h i s a good i l l u s t r a t i o n of how d i f f i c u l t to d e s c r i b e even a simple sensory experience can be. Since the m a j o r i t y of our sensory experiences are f a r more complex than t h i s example, i t c o u l d not be s a f e l y claimed that the r e p o r t d e s c r i b i n g i t had any c e r t a i n t y at a l l . Moreover, i n such cases i t would be p l a u s i b l e t o say tha t the p h y s i c a l o b j e c t statement I make i s l e s s l i k e l y t o be mistaken than my sensory r e p o r t ; e.g., my a s s e r t i o n that t h e r e are two l i n e s drawn on a p i e c e of paper i n f r o n t of me i s l i k e l y to be regarded as more r e l i a b l e than my r e p o r t about which of the l i n e s i s the longer l o o k i n g one. F u r t h e r -more, there are cases where the n o t i o n of a sensory r e p o r t 3 9 being more certain would not seem to apply because both the sensory experience and the situ a t i o n in the external world are of equal complexity. If I am presented with a certain number of dots on the screen and am asked to report both on the number of dots on the screen and on the number of dots in my v i s u a l f i e l d , I would have to do exactly the same thing in order to determine the number of dots presented to me as an event in the physical world and as I see them pre-sent in my v i s u a l f i e l d . On the assumption that I would not be tr i c k e d in any way into seeing more dots than there . r e a l l y are either phenomenally or phys i c a l l y , my report that there are seven dots on the screen would be as r e l i a b l e as my report that there are seven dots in my vi s u a l f i e l d . There seems to be l i t t l e doubt, then,that the claim that our sensory reports are always more certain than other kinds of statements w i l l prove impossible to defend, and that, consequently, i t won't be able to support the kind of foundational account of j u s t i f i c a t i o n I have been con-sidering here. 40 NOTES - CHAPTER IV. ''"A. J . Ayer, The Problem of Knowledge (London: MacMillan & Co.Ltd., 1956) pp. 64-73. 2 I b i d . , p. 67. 3 I b i d . , p. 68. 4 I b i d . , p. 70. 5 I b i d . , p. 71. 6 I b i d . 7 I b i d . Q N i c o l a s Rescher, The Coherence Theory of Tr u t h (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973) p. 209. 9 I b i d . 1 0 I b i d . " i b i d . 12.. . , I b i d . 1 3 I b i d . , p. 210. I b i d . 41 V C. F. Delaney: MITIGATED FOUNDATIONALISM G. F. Delaney supports the foundationalist claim that the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of empirical b e l i e f s cannot be purely a matter of coherence, for j u s t i f i c a t i o n by means of coherence alone must lead to an i n f i n i t e regress or a c i r c l e of j u s t i -fication.''' To avoid j u s t i f i c a t i o n being arbitr a r y , we need basic b e l i e f s which are prima fa c i e self-warranting and which serve as the stopping points for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of other less basic b e l i e f s . Delaney holds that such basic foundational b e l i e f s are expressed in our statements about our immediate sensory ex-periences. These statements are contrasted with statements expressing our th e o r e t i c a l b e l i e f s about the factual world. He believes that a clear but not always sharp d i s t i n c t i o n e x i s t s between the observable and the o r e t i c a l features of physical objects, and that t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n i s made evident through the exclusive use of sensory predicates in the form-2 u l a t i o n of sensory reports. He claims that the epistemic p r i o r i t y of sensory reports i s a matter of t h e i r certainty rather than t h e i r i n c o r r i g i b i b i l i t y . No judgement about a sensory experience can be i n c o r r i g i b l e since the p o s s i b i l i t y of making a mistake i s part of the human condition and that 3 no b e l i e f i s immune from t h i s condition. He makes the sug-gestion that we should distinguish between two forms of cer-42 tainty: a stronger one and a weaker one. If we have no actual reason for doubting something we have certainty in the weaker sense; and i f i t i s in p r i n c i p l e impossible to have doubt about something we have certainty in the stronger sense. He claims that under standard conditions we have cer-tainty in the weaker sense with regard to our i n d i v i d u a l sen-sory reports, and that we have certainty in the stronger sense in our b e l i e f that sensory reports are foundational to our factual knowledge about the world. He suggests then that sensory reports are foundational in two d i s t i n c t ways: ( i ) they provide i n i t i a l prima f a c i e jus-t i f i c a t i o n on an i n d i v i d u a l basis for our other non-basic be-l i e f s about the world; and ( i i ) they provide permanent and absolute j u s t i f i c a t i o n , on the grounds that our knowledge of the world i s in the l a s t analysis always based on reports 4 about our immediate sensory experiences. Delaney concedes that the following two-folded objection could be made to what he c a l l s a "mitigated foundational ac-count". Since any sensory report can be mistaken, doesn't i t follow that i n p a r t i c u l a r cases we cannot even be certain in the prima fa c i e sense with respect to our i n d i v i d u a l sensory reports? And furthermore, since any of our sensory reports can be mistaken, can't we be mistaken in a l l of them simul-taneously so that we r e a l l y cannot be absolutely certain that our sensory reports are foundational to our factual knowledge about the world? But his contention i s that t h i s objection does not hold. He claims, f i r s t l y , that what we o r d i n a r i l y 4 3 mean by such t h i n g s as c e r t a i n t y and j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s not a f f e c t e d by our being o c c a s i o n a l l y mistaken i n our judge-ment of what seems j u s t i f i e d or c e r t a i n because the very concept of c e r t a i n t y d e r i v e s i t s meaning from such i n s t a n c e s as when we t h i n k that we are c e r t a i n about what we p e r c e i v e 5 to be the case under standard c o n d i t i o n s . Delaney counters the second p a r t o f the o b j e c t i o n -t h a t we can be mistaken i n a l l our sensory r e p o r t s s i m u l t a n -eously - with an example of how we r e t a i n our a b s o l u t e f a i t h i n our sensory p e r c e p t i o n s as being f o u n d a t i o n a l to knowledge, even though we are o c c a s i o n a l l y mistaken about them. I f I n o t i c e that the door to t h i s room i s open, as obvious as t h i s may seem t o me, i t can no doubt be argued that I might be wrong about t h i s . And should I have made a mistake, i t seems l i k e l y t h a t I would f i n d out about t h i s by means of having some other sensory experience which shows me th a t I was mis-taken . But s i n c e i t i s n e v e r t h e l e s s a l s o p o s s i b l e that I may have to drop a sensory b e l i e f i n favour of some t h e o r e t i c a l b e l i e f i t would appear to be the case that i t does not r e a l l y matter whether a b e l i e f i s p u r e l y t h e o r e t i c a l o r based on a sensory experience f o r i t to have e p i s t e m i c p r i o r i t y . But the q u e s t i o n i s then whether t h i s c o n c l u s i o n r e a l l y f o l l o w s . Delaney suggests t h a t i n the l a s t a n a l y s i s one i s onl y going to accept a t h e o r e t i c a l b e l i e f on the b a s i s that one has a sensory experience which supports i t . Suppose that I am t o l d t h a t my b e l i e f t h a t the door to t h i s room i s open i s f a l s e 44 because some mischievous member of my family has in my absence i n s t a l l e d t o t a l l y transparent doors throughout the house. It i s just the case that my acceptance of t h i s theo-r e t i c a l b e l i e f w i l l depend on evidence from certain other sensory experiences which show that my o r i g i n a l b e l i e f that the door i s open i s mistaken. And so i t follows, he claims, that the sensory report retains i t s epistemic p r i o r i t y , for in the f i n a l analysis I r e l i e d on having certain sensory ex-periences to accept the fact that my b e l i e f that the door to t h i s room i s open i s wrong. Delaney holds then that i t i s inconceivable that a l l of our sensory reports should be c a l l e d into question by inde-pendently confirmed t h e o r e t i c a l b e l i e f s , such that i t appears possible that a l l our beliefs-based-on-experience would be mistaken. He suggests that to question a l l our sensory be-4 l i e f s at once i s to c a l l into question the entire framework of human cognition. And t h i s we cannot do, for i t bears d i r e c t l y on the kind of beings we are that we cannot question our sensory b e l i e f s without i n d i r e c t l y r e l y i n g on others. He claims that t h i s i s a factual point about human cognition and the empirical basis for assigning a foundational role to our sensory reports. I accept Delaney's claim that sensory reports are foun-dational to knowledge, in the sense that i t i s inconceivable that human cognition could proceed without them. But i f be-ing indispensible to knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s a c r i t e r -ion for something being foundational to knowledge, i t i s clear 45 that being indispensible to knowledge i s not an exclusive property of sensory reports. We could c e r t a i n l y not pro-ceed with the process of knowledge without i m p l i c i t l y r e l y -ing on our memory reports - to avoid solipsism of the pres-ent moment; or without r e l y i n g on certain rules of inference -to i n f e r other b e l i e f s ; or without accepting l o g i c a l truths -to keep knowledge consistent. But the c r u c i a l question i s how the observation of sensory reports being indispensible to knowledge can do anything for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of i n d i -vidual sensory reports. For even i f we grant that j u s t i f i -cation always ends with some sensory report, there i s noth-ing which follows from t h i s which would prevent us from ques-tio n i n g the truth of individual sensory reports. Now i t i s true that a l l that Delaney claims on behalf of i n d i v i d u a l sensory reports i s prima fa c i e certainty. He i n i t i a l l y defines t h i s kind of certainty - the weaker sense -in terms of having no de facto reason for doubt. But the question must be whether a term such as "certainty" can be defined s o l e l y in terms of the absence of reasons for doubt. I may not have any de facto reasons for doubting that there are other forms of l i f e in t h i s universe, but t h i s does not make i t at a l l certain that there i s other l i f e out there! "Certainty", i t seems to me, i s something which obtains not merely because you do not have any reasons for doubting some-thing, but because you do have i n fact a good reason for accepting i t . The lack of a proper d e f i n i t i o n of prima fa c i e certainty 4 6 i s one reason why Delaney i s unable to present sensory re-ports as pla u s i b l e examples of prima f a c i e certainty. More-over, he appears to be r e l y i n g on the Paradigm-Case argument when he claims that sensory reports are paradigm examples of certain knowledge, and from t h i s he seems to in f e r that, when there i s no de facto reason to reject such a report, they r e a l l y are examples of certain knowledge. But i f sensory reports are instances of certain know-ledge, they are so in virtue of having certain characteris-t i c s , and the assertion that sensory reports have these charac-t e r i s t i c s , i . e . that they are genuine instances of certain knowledge, cannot be based on making sensory reports exam-ples of what the expression "certain knowledge" stands for. For to do so would imply that what i s meant by "certain know-ledge" i s merely a matter of ostensive d e f i n i t i o n , and t h i s simply i s not so. The problem with terms such as "certainty" i s that, unlike terms such as "red" which could possibly be defined ostensively, i t has a conceptual rather than an osten-sive meaning, and that for t h i s reason any example of "cer-t a i n t y " stands in need of an explanation of what i t i s about the example that makes i t a genuine instance of the term's application. You need to know, then, what c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of sensory reports are being connoted by predicating c e r t a i n -ty of sensory reports, for without such c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s being s p e c i f i e d the p o s s i b i l i t y remains that sensory reports are 8 not genuine instances of certain knowledge at_ a l l . 47 The alternative would be to hold that sensory reports are necessarily correct examples of certain knowledge, i . e . that sensory reports are by d e f i n i t i o n genuine instances of certainty in knowledge. But, as Watkins has pointed out, 9 t h i s leads to a mere tautology. For i f you hold that ex-amples a, b, and c are necessarily correct examples of what i s meant by some term p, the claim that p means a does not assert anything, but merely echoes the d e f i n i t i o n that ex-ample a i s a genuine instance of term p's application. I would conclude, then, that by pointing to sensory reports as paradigm examples of certain knowledge, Delaney f a l l s short of showing that sensory reports r e a l l y are i n -stances of certain knowledge, on the grounds that what i s meant by "certainty" i s not something that allows of d e f i n i -t i o n by means of simple ostension. 48 NOTES - CHAPTER V. C. F. Delaney, "Foundations of Empirical Knowledge Again," New Scholasticism 50 (1976) p. 13. 2 I b i d . 3 I b i d . , P- 9. 4 I b i d . , PP . 13 5 I b i d . , p. 14. 6 I b i d . , P- 15. 7 I b i d . , P- 16. J. W. N. Watkins, "Farewell to the Paradigm-Case Argument," Analysis 18 (December 1957) 25-33. 9 I b i d . , p. 30. ( t 49 VI R. I. Sikora: MODEST FOUNDATIONALISM The t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist claims that our sen-sory reports are absolutely certain and hence foundational to knowledge because he believes that you cannot make a mis-take about your immediate sensory experiences. R. I. Sikora claims that sensory reports do play a kind of foundational role in the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s , but t h i s i s not because they are i n c o r r i g i b l e . He holds that i t i s sometimes appropriate to drop a sensory report in fav-our of a physical object b e l i e f because you appear to have made a mistake about your current sensory experience. Let us suppose that I report that the after-image I have now has f i v e sides, but that I am t o l d l a t e r that the object I looked at just before I had my after-image has actually six sides. Surely, the most plausible explanation would be that I simply misjudged the number of sides of my after-image because i t i s easy to understand how a person could make an error in quickly judging the number of sides of a multi-sided a f t e r -image. A possible alternative would be to suggest that I have sometimes after-images with a di f f e r e n t number of sides from the object that I have been looking at. But since there are good empirical reasons for supposing that when you per-ceive a certain kind of object you w i l l have a certain kind of after-image, t h i s explanation can be r e j e c t e d . 1 50 Sikora claims further that not only can our sensory reports be mistaken about the content of an immediate sen-sory experience, but that such reports may even be less cer-t a i n than a physical object b e l i e f or a general law. My claim that my after-image has f i v e sides i s less certain than the physical object b e l i e f that f i v e sided after-images do not follow the perception of six sided objects. Further-more, i t could be the case that some memory claims are more certai n than some sensory reports. If I had f e l t a sharp pain just before having a multi-sided after-image, I could be more certain about the fact that I had a sharp pain than 2 about the number of sides of my after-image. Sikora claims then that sensory reports, although f a l -l i b l e , have a special status in the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s about the world, but that there are at least f i v e mistaken reasons for assigning special epistemic status to these reports. ( i ) Sensory reports have special epistemic status in the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s because they can be used to c r i t i -c i ze other empirical judgements, but c r i t i c i s m can never go in the opposite d i r e c t i o n . This view has already been d i s -posed of by means of the example of the many sided a f t e r -3 image. ( i i ) Sensory reports have special status because without them the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s would end up being c i r c u l a r or as an i n f i n i t e regress. This view can be rejected because both the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist and the coherentist can-51 not do without the assumption that we can have some c o n f i -dence in a b e l i e f before i t i s tested and thus avoid the c i r c l e and the regress in the j u s t i f i c a t i o n process. C. I . Lewis claimed that the bare fact that we have an ostensive memory of something as providing at least s l i g h t grounds for thinking that i t i s true. Without t h i s assump-tion the only alternative would be solipsism of the present . 4 moment. ( i i i ) Sensory reports have special status because j u s t i f i c a -t ion of empirical statements proceeds from judgements about the given element in a sensory experience. This claim can be rejected on the grounds that we often start with an osten-5 sive memory or simply a plausible idea. (iv) Sensory reports have special status because in order to have a b e l i e f about the external world you must f i r s t have a sensory experience, but you need not f i r s t have a b e l i e f about the external world i n order to have a b e l i e f about a sensory experience. Thus, i t i s claimed, we must have be-l i e f s about our sensory experiences in order to have b e l i e f s about the external world but not vice versa. But t h i s view can be rejected, f i r s t l y , on the grounds that having a sen-sory experience i s not the same as having a b e l i e f about i t , and thus the conclusion that you must f i r s t have b e l i e f s about your sensory experiences before having b e l i e f s about the external world i s wrong because i t simply does not f o l -low from the premisses. 52 A second reason for r e j e c t i n g t h i s view i s that i t represents a causal hypothesis rather than a theory of how our b e l i e f s should be j u s t i f i e d . But even i f a theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n should be based on a causal hypothesis, i t has already been shown in ( i i i ) that the process of j u s t i -f i c a t i o n need not star t from b e l i e f s about sensory experi-6 ences. (v) Sensory reports have special status because the j u s t i -f i c a t i o n of our b e l i e f s should i d e a l l y be patterned after the way in which we acquire these b e l i e f s : the order of sensory experiences followed by b e l i e f s about the external world. This view should be rejected, because even i f the account of the o r i g i n of our b e l i e f s about the world i s true, i t does not necessarily follow that the same order i s ideal for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of these b e l i e f s . A better reason for supposing t h i s would be to claim that i t i s the ideal order because sensory reports, although c o r r i g i b l e , are on the whole more r e l i a b l e than our b e l i e f s about the world. But t h i s does not work either, because even i f sensory reports are on the whole more r e l i a b l e than physical object b e l i e f s , i t does not follow that a l l sensory reports are more r e l i a b l e than physical object statements. And consequently, i t would not r e a l l y matter whether you start from a b e l i e f about a sensory experience or from a physical object belief, so long as you are prepared to drop the b e l i e f in question i f you are under s u f f i c i e n t epistemic pressure + ^ 7 to do so. 53 Sikora claims then that the right reason for assigning special status to sensory reports follows from the fact that there i s an important difference between sensory reports and a l l other empirical judgements. When you make a sensory re-port, you are not epistemically separated from the referent of your present judgement, but when you make a physical object statement about the world you are epistemically sep-arated from the referent of your judgement. He holds that you are not epistemically separated from something i f that something i s in your stream of consciousness at the time you make a judgement about i t ; and i f there i s anything that you are not epistemically separated from i t must be your immed-. 8 late sensory experiences. Because you are not epistemically separated from your immediate sensory experiences your sensory reports are im-mune to an important sort of i n f e r e n t i a l error which you could only make i f you were epistemically separated from the referent of your judgement, e.g. when the referent i s either separated in time from your judgement, or contemp-oraneous with i t but not contained in your stream of con-sciousness. However, t h i s i s not to say that sensory reports are inherently free from i n f e r e n t i a l errors, but that even i f they are not, they are immune to the mistaken inference you could make with respect to the nature or existence of a ref-erent not presently part of your immediate sensory experience. Sikora claims then that t h i s special epistemic status of sensory reports allows them to provide non-coherentist sup-port in the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s about the world, but 54 since t h i s claim i s incompatible with coherentism i t q u a l i -f i e s as a kind of foundationalism which he gives the name of "modest" foundationalism. Sikora has the following problems with his modest foun-dational account. The f i r s t problem concerns the claim that you are not epistemically separated from your sensory experi-ences. I would c e r t a i n l y grant that you are not separated from your sensory experiences,but i t i s not clear how not being separated from them i s epistemically s i g n i f i c a n t in the sense that i t a f f e c t s the epistemic status of our judgements about them. It might be suggested that not being separated from your sensory experiences can at most imply that you are not causally separated from them, but i f sensations are to have some sort of epistemic role they must be more than just causal e n t i t i e s in your stream of consciousness. What needs to be shown, then, i s that one's judgements about one's sensory experiences d i f f e r epistemically from any other kind of judge-ment , in the sense that having a sensory experience provides our judgements about i t with at least some j u s t i f i c a t i o n for making i t . And t h i s cannot be shown, I believe, by claiming that you are not separated from your sensory experience, i f the fact that you are not cannot be immediately paid out in epistemic terms. If you base your account of epistemic non-separation on the claim that you are not separated from your sensory experiences, you do not have the right sort of founda-tion to base an epistemic claim on. 55 The other problem with Sikora's foundational account i s the claim that sensory reports are immune to certain kinds of i n f e r e n t i a l errors which you could make i f you were epistem-i c a l l y separated from the object of your judgement. But, as I have already t r i e d to show, the fact that you are having some sort of sensory experience i s of no epistemic s i g n i f i -cance i f you base i t sol e l y on the claim that you are not separated from your sensory experiences. And i f the bare fact that you are not separated from them i s not an epistemic fa c t , there can be no difference that i s epistemically r e l e -vant between the i n f e r e n t i a l errors that you could make with respect to your sensory judgements, and the i n f e r e n t i a l errors that you could make in inferences from sensory reports to physical object judgements. The only thing you could claim with respect to your inferences about sensory experiences i s that when you l i m i t your judgements to what you hold to be your sensory experience, you are open to fewer i n f e r e n t i a l mistakes than i f you were to make a physical object judgement based on the sensory report in question. For i f you were to in f e r a physical object b e l i e f on the basis of some sensory experience,your judgement would be l i a b l e to both mistakes about your sensory experience and mistakes about physical objects. The question i s then whether the l i k e l i h o o d of making fewer i n f e r e n t i a l errors with respect to our sensory judgements i s a good enough reason to base any kind of foun-dational account on. As I have pointed out e a r l i e r , except for my objections as stated above, I am largely in agreement with Sikora's account of the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of b e l i e f s . It i s for t h i s reason that my defense of the i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y of sensory reports, in chapter IX, can be seen as an attempt to explicate the fact that not being separated from our sensory experiences i s epistemologically s i g n i f i c a n t , in the sense that sensations are reasons for finding our sen-sory judgements to at least some extent i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible. NOTES - CHAPTER VI. 1R. I. Sikora, "Foundations Without Certainty Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (June 1978) p. 229 2 I b i d . , p. 231. 3 I b i d . , p. 239. 4 I b i d . , pp. 239-40. 5 I b i d . , p. 240. 6 I b i d . 7 I b i d . , p. 241. 8 I b i d . , p. 236. 9 I b i d . , p. 243. 58 VII David B. Annis: RELATIVIZED FOUNDATIONALISM A t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist would hold that the j u s t i -f i c a t i o n of our knowledge about the factual world requires the existence of absolutely certain b e l i e f s , and that we have such foundational b e l i e f s about the content of our im-mediate sensory experiences. David Annis suggests that a statement does not need to be absolutely certain to be foundational. He holds that a l l that i s required for a statement to be foundational i s that i t has some degree of i n i t i a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n which i s indepen-dent from the j u s t i f i c a t i o n such a statement may derive from the support of other statements. Accordingly, foundational statements need not be limited to f i r s t person experience reports and may include statements about something else, provided they have some degree of i n i t i a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n which does not require the support from other statements. Further-more, a statement's i n i t i a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n may be increased or decreased depending on i t s coherence with other statements."'" A t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist would claim that, when I make the foundational statement that I now have a phenomen-a l l y red image, t h i s statement does not need any further j u s t i -f i c a t i o n i r r e s p e c t i v e l y of whether you, I, or anyone else made i t under whatever circumstances. But Annis claims that a statement's foundational status w i l l depend on a person's 59 propensity to err with regard to statements of a certain 2 kind in certain circumstances. If i t turns out that my colour judgements are usually r e l i a b l e , without my having any confirming support for t h e i r truth, then being in thi s epistemic position would provide any of my colour judgements with at least some degree of i n i t i a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n . The pro-pensity to err i s a d i s p o s i t i o n a l property of individuals and i s determined in part by certain s t r u c t u r a l features of a person's cognitive apparatus and psychological make-up. And given the v a r i a b i l i t y of such dispositions between i n d i v i d -uals, a statement's foundational status i s subject to i n d i v i d -ual circumstances a f f e c t i n g the r e l i a b i l i t y of certain state-ments, e.g. whether the person making a p a r t i c u l a r statement i s being careful or paying attention; whether he i s in any way perceptually handicapped; or whether he has any reason to disbelieve, and so on. Annis claims further that a statement's foundational status should not depend on other people's d i s p o s i t i o n to accept cert a i n statements as foundational in certain contexts. If in a certain context of inquiry some people are w i l l i n g to accept cert a i n statements without the need for j u s t i f i c a t i o n , the chances are that in some other context of inquiry such basic statements may no longer be basic because people are 3 not w i l l i n g to accept them without further j u s t i f i c a t i o n . A t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist would claim that a l l state-ments about the sensory content of an immediate experience are s e l f - j u s t i f y i n g because he believes that i t i s impossible to 60 make a mistake about a current sensory experience. But Annis suggests that i t i s possible to be mistaken about an immed-iate sensory experience, and that the r e l i a b i l i t y of sensory reports depends on the individual's tendency to make mistakes 4 with regard to such reports. If the dentist uses his d r i l l on me and I am t o l d that i t i s quite important to l e t him know the exact moment I f e e l the s l i g h t e s t b i t of pain, I w i l l be anxiously concentrating on every sensation I have in order to i d e n t i f y an oncoming pain. It i s not inconceivable, then, that at one moment I w i l l think that the pain has started while r e a l i z i n g only a second l a t e r that I am not in pain because of the d i f f i c u l t y I have in try i n g to i d e n t i f y a sen-sation which i s not rea d i l y distinguishable from my other sen-sations . My propensity to err with respect to my sensory reports would be even greater i f I were subjected to some form of rad-i a t i o n which d u l l s my bodily sensations, to the point where i t becomes very d i f f i c u l t for me to discern whether a sensation I have i s either a t i c k l e or a pain. And were I so affected, i t seems plausible that one would be hesitant to accept my re-port that I am in pain. Annis holds that a person's propensity to err need not 5 be s t a t i c . By t h i s he means that a person's propensity to err may vary between d i f f e r e n t kinds of statements, e.g., some-one's colour perceptions may be more r e l i a b l e than his report about his bodily sensations. It seems to me, though, that to say that one's propensity to err need not be s t a t i c the sug-61 gestion i s that the r e l i a b i l i t y of one's judgements may change in time with respect to the same kind of judgement. But thi s i s not what he means by his use of the word " s t a t i c " . Annis contends that a major problem for t r a d i t i o n a l foun-d a t i o n a l i s t s derives from t h e i r claim that a l l empirical state-ments depend for th e i r j u s t i f i c a t i o n on sensory reports. Since sensory reports have generally r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e content in comparison with the claims based upon them, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to explain how a multitude of content-rich non-basic state-ments can thus be j u s t i f i e d . He points to the f a i l u r e of ana-l y t i c a l l y reductive theories such as c l a s s i c a l phenomenalism as evidence that we cannot j u s t i f y the non-basic by appealing to the basic and purely deductive r e l a t i o n s . Annis questions further whether we can even i n f e r the ex-istence of physical objects on the grounds that, as Russell claimed, the hypothesis that there are such objects i s the simplest and best explanation of our various sense data. He claims that such an inference i s not r e a l l y j u s t i f i e d because the concepts of s i m p l i c i t y and explanation are much too prob-lematic to form the basis for such an inference. But our immediate reply to t h i s objection might be to say that we are j u s t i f i e d in holding that there are such things as physical objects, because the denial that there are such things would seem to leave us with the even bigger prob-lem of how else to account for the r e g u l a r i t i e s of our sensory experiences. Only i f we assume the existence of physical ob-jects can we deduce the existence of causal laws in order to 62 account for these r e g u l a r i t i e s . J. L. Mackie and C. H. Whitely 8 9 have suggested views si m i l a r to t h i s . ' Annis mentions other attempts to j u s t i f y the non-basic v i a the basic such as the formulation of various "rules of evidence" by philosophers such as Price, Lewis and Chisholm, but he claims that an adequate set of rules has yet to be form-ulated . He claims then that the r e l a t i v i z e d version of foundation-alism he i s suggesting avoids the problem of j u s t i f i c a t i o n as-sociated with t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalism because i t eliminates the need to j u s t i f y various statements about the world in terms of the sensory content in experience only. Instead, we may d i r e c t l y appeal to statements about what we observe in the world, on the grounds that such statements can be foundational depending on a person's propensity to make mistakes with regard to the making of certain kinds of statements. 1^ Annis claims then that you do not need to know that you have a low propensity to err with regard to certain kinds of statements in order to be j u s t i f i e d in expressing them. If a normal four-year-old c h i l d asserts that there i s a red b a l l in the corner - and he has the necessary conceptual understand-ing to assert such things - i t can be held that the c h i l d i s j u s t i f i e d in believing that there i s a red b a l l in the corner, in spite of the fact that he i s not even l i k e l y to have the concept of the propensity to err. And hence we cannot require that a person believes, or i s j u s t i f i e d in believing, that his statements are r e l i a b l e in order to have knowledge or j u s t i f i -cation. 63 But against t h i s i t can be argued that, in order for a statement to play even a r e l a t i v i z e d foundational role in knowledge, i t needs more than simply to be r e l i a b l e . Granted that one does not need to know that one's state-ments are r e l i a b l e for them to be r e l i a b l e , i t i s hard to see how the bare fact that they are r e l i a b l e can contribute anything to the j u s t i f i c a t i o n process. The fact i s that while reports about one's di s p o s i t i o n could provide support for the r e l i a b i l i t y of one's statements, merely having the di s p o s i t i o n cannot because d i s p o s i t i o n a l states of i n d i v i d -uals, l i k e the properties of physical objects, are not the sorts of things you can d i r e c t l y base the truth of state-ments on. A possible way out of t h i s problem would be for Annis to claim, as Williams does (see below ch. XIII), that j u s t i -f i c a t i o n i s a matter of having epistemic b e l i e f s about the r e l i a b i l i t y of certain kinds of b e l i e f s , and that such epis-temic b e l i e f s are supported by our having some evidence for t h i s r e l i a b i l i t y . But the d i f f i c u l t y w i l l then be how to support the claim that t h i s evidence i s i t s e l f r e l i a b l e , for any statement proclaiming the r e l i a b i l i t y of certain kinds of statements w i l l need further support, and so a regress seems imminent i f the r e l i a b i l i t y of statements i s always a matter of establishing evidence to support t h i s r e l i a b i l i t y . This point w i l l be taken up again in the f i n -a l chapter, where I s h a l l argue, against Williams, that mere-ly having epistemic b e l i e f s about the r e l i a b i l i t y of sensory reports i s i n s u f f i c i e n t to establish the c r e d i b i l i t y of such reports, and that such reports must have at least some degree of i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y i f any sensory report i s to be used as evidence for the claim that such reports are usually r e l i a b l e . 65 NOTES - CHAPTER VII. "'"David B. Annis, "Epistemic Foundationalism," Philosophical Studies 31 (1977) p. 346. 2 I b i d . , pp. 347-48. 3 I b i d . , pp. 348-49. 4 I b i d . , p. 350. 5 I b i d . Ibid., p. 347. 7 I b i d . g J. L. Mackie, Problems from Locke, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976) p. 64. 9C. H. Whitely, "Objects," Philosophy 34 (1959) 142-49. "^Annis, "Epistemic Foundationalism," p. 351. 11 T, ., Ibid. 66 VIII Michael Williams: THE NO-FOUNDATIONS VIEW Tr a d i t i o n a l foundationalism holds that without episte-mologically basic b e l i e f s our knowledge of the factual world would be ar b i t r a r y , because no b e l i e f would ever be j u s t i f i e d i f at some point we did not have certain foundational b e l i e f s as the ultimate stopping points in the j u s t i f i c a t i o n process. But Michael Williams suggests that the idea that empirical knowledge rests on a foundation of epistemologically basic b e l i e f s i s something which should be given up e n t i r e l y . He holds that any attempt to place knowledge on some kind of foundation i s doomed to f a i l u r e because (a) no convincing account can be given of the existence of epistemologically basic b e l i e f s , and (b) because the commitment to a foundational view of knowledge leaves us with no adequate defense against the r a d i c a l sceptic's claim that none of our b e l i e f s about the physical world can be j u s t i f i e d . 1 A t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist would hold that j u s t i f i c a -t i on must end with absolutely certain b e l i e f s , and that such foundational b e l i e f s are expressed by our statements about our immediate sensory experiences because he believes that these statements are i n c o r r i g i b l e . But Williams rejects t h i s claim on the gounds that i t i s a mistake to hold that a par-t i c u l a r kind of b e l i e f i s foundational because i t i s incor-r i g i b l e , since the question of whether there are any episte-mologically basic b e l i e f s i s independent from the question of 6 7 whether there are any i n c o r r i g i b l e b e l i e f s . It would follow that one does not esta b l i s h the existence of epistemologic-a l l y basic b e l i e f s by claiming that a p a r t i c u l a r kind of b e l i e f i s i n c o r r i g i b l e . Williams contends that the fact that we are in the habit of accepting people's sensory reports at face value may tempt one into thinking that one has encountered a kind of foundational b e l i e f , because no further j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s either required or perhaps even possible. But, he notes, our every day practice of accept-ing sensory reports at face value i s empirically grounded and r e l a t i v e to a certain theory of mind which may be revised 3 or dropped e n t i r e l y at any time. An example of what Williams i s suggesting i s the fact that, since the discovery of rapid eye movements, we can no longer regard ourselves as having the la s t word on whether or not we have been dreaming. He claims that the findings of psycho-analysis makes i t implausible to claim that the ind i v i d u a l i s always the best authority on what he r e a l l y thinks or believes, and that i t i s conceivable that we should come to change our minds with respect to the r e l i a b i l i t y of various kinds of b e l i e f s , including b e l i e f s expressed by sen-. 4 sory reports. Williams claims that i t would be possible to grant the r e l a t i v e i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y of sensory reports without being committed to a foundational view of knowledge and j u s t i f i -cation i f you hold that t h i s i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y i s dependent on some theory of mind which allows for i t . Such a theory 68 would give recognition to the fact that i t appears presently impossible to show that f i r s t person experience reports are mistaken. But at some time i n the future i t may be possible to show that sensory reports are in fact quite often mistaken, and hence we would have to change our theories with respect to the epistemic status of such reports so as to treat them as being no longer i n c o r r i g i b l e . Foundationalism, on the other hand, requires absolute i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y i f the founda-tions of knowledge are to consist of i n c o r r i g i b l e b e l i e f s , in order to prevent even a potential regress of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . But the problem i s that the existence of absolutely i n c o r r i g -i b l e b e l i e f s cannot be established by pointing to our every day views about b e l i e f s and sensations, and so the question remains i n what other ways we may be able to account for them Williams holds that for a p a r t i c u l a r kind of b e l i e f to be foundational, there must be a presumption in favour of such a b e l i e f being true most of the time. Such a presumption, however, could not be based on empirical facts about the world because t h i s would lead to the very regress the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist wants to avoid by means of the appeal to abso-l u t e l y c e r t a i n or basic b e l i e f s . The a l t e r n a t i v e would be to claim that there i s a l o g i c a l presumption that a p a r t i c u l a r kind of b e l i e f i s true most of the time, so that there i s no need for an empirical investigation which would lead to a regress of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . But Williams rejects the claim that there are such things as a p r i o r i truths, and in t h i s •69 he follows other philosophers such as Quine and others who hold that there i s no such thing as truth s o l e l y in virtue 7 of meaning and independent of empirical fa c t . Williams suggests that the acceptance of a foundational view of knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n leaves us with no ade-quate defense against the sceptic's argument that we are never r e a l l y j u s t i f i e d in holding any of the b e l i e f s we do about physical objects. The sceptic holds that the conclu-sion that there are such things as physical objects cannot be arrived at either deductively or inductively solely from the information provided by our sensory experiences. Williams refers to t h i s p a r t i c u l a r sceptic's claim as "r a d i c a l s c e p t i -cism" which he c a l l s important philosophically because of i t s g formulation in terms of j u s t i f i e d b e l i e f . Although he agrees that the r a d i c a l sceptic's view would amount to l i t t l e more than solipsism of the present moment, Williams contends that i t would be wrong to dismiss the r a d i c a l sceptic's claim as f i c t i c i o u s , as Ayer has done, because once we commit ourselves to a foundational view of knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n we be-come vulnerable to the r a d i c a l sceptic's charge that any attempt to place empirical knowledge on a foundation of any 9 kind i s headed for f a i l u r e . Williams suggests that approaching t r a d i t i o n a l episte-mological theories by way of the r a d i c a l sceptic's argument c l e a r l y shows that the common ground between such theories i s a commitment to a foundational view of knowledge and j u s t i -f i c a t i o n in response to the r a d i c a l sceptic's argument. He holds that t h i s commitment i s grounded i n the b e l i e f shared with the r a d i c a l sceptic, that without epistemologically basic b e l i e f s one could be j u s t i f i e d i n believing anything. He points to at least four d i f f e r e n t ways in which epistemolo-g i s t s have reacted to the threat of r a d i c a l scepticism: ( i ) Direct realism responds to the r a d i c a l sceptic's threat by claiming that such things as physical objects can be d i -r e c t l y known, thereby avoiding the r a d i c a l sceptic's claim that knowledge of the physical world can only be arrived at i n d i r e c t l y through our sensory experiences. ( i i ) C l a s s i c a l phenomenalism denies that there i s a gap between our sensory experiences of physical objects and the objects themselves because physical objects can be analyzed into and are hence entailed by complex statements about sen-sory experiences. ( i i i ) The s c i e n t i f i c approach. The kind of position once held by Russell who claimed that, although there i s a gap between our sensory experiences and the physical world, i t i s nevertheless legitimate to i n f e r that there are such things as physical objects because they are the best and simplest explanation of certain features of our sensory experiences. ( i v ) L astly, Williams l i s t s as a response to the r a d i c a l sceptic's argument a kind of "descriptivism" which he a t t r i -butes to Ayer and Pollock. They would hold that, although the gap between sensory experiences and the physical world cannot be bridged either deductively or inductively, i t i s 71 a n a l y t i c a l l y true that certain statements, i f j u s t i f i a b l y believed, count as good evidence for the truth of certain other b e l i e f s . This would be so in spite of the fact that statements expressing these b e l i e f s cannot be analyzed into statements of the evidence conferring k i n d . 1 1 Williams holds then that the common ground between these theories i s the c r u c i a l assumption that some things can be d i r e c t l y known, thus giving r i s e to the notion of a founda-tion of knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n in direct response to the r a d i c a l sceptic's argument. The direc t r e a l i s t claims to have dire c t knowledge of physical objects, while the other theories involve the claim that sense data are d i r e c t l y know-able. The main difference between the direc t r e a l i s t and the sense data t h e o r i s t s , from a foundational point of view, i s that for the di r e c t r e a l i s t the foundation of empirical know-ledge stands at the l e v e l of b e l i e f s about physical objects instead of b e l i e f s about sensory phenomena. Williams claims that di r e c t realism need not be committed to a foundational view of knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n i f you hold that by "direct or non-inferential knowledge" you don't mean that f i r s t person reports about physical objects are i n -t r i n s i c a l l y credible. He claims that the n o n - i n f e r e n t i a l l i t y of such statements can be explained in terms of the fact that people can make r e l i a b l e reports about physical objects and th e i r properties "without thinking about i t " . And given such a d e f i n i t i o n of direc t knowledge, the notion of i n t r i n s i c 72 c r e d i b i l i t y need not be invoked, and hence no commitment to the foundational view i s involved because our acceptance of reports of t h i s kind remains dependent on contingent facts about the perceptual and l i n g u i s t i c a b i l i t i e s of human beings, "especially t h e i r capacities for acquiring dispositions to 12 respond d i r e c t l y to certain classes of s t i m u l i " . But i f the di r e c t r e a l i s t claims that physical objects are d i r e c t l y or no n - i n f e r e n t i a l l y knowable, i n the sense that our reports about them are i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible, without the need or even the p o s s i b i l i t y of further j u s t i f i c a t i o n , then t h i s version of dire c t realism w i l l involve a commitment to the foundational view. This would be so because the c r e d i -b i l i t y of such reports does not depend on further empirical fact, but i s instead a function of the kind of b e l i e f i t represents. T r a d i t i o n a l foundational theories involving sense data invariably hold that f i r s t person reports about sensory ex-periences are expressions of non-inferential knowledge because i t i s impossible to be in doubt about the kind of sensation you are having when you have a sensory experience. But Williams claims that many phenomenalists have confused the non-cognitive having of sensations with the acqui s i t i o n of non-inferential knowledge. He suggests that, in t h e i r search for absolutely certain basic b e l i e f s , phenomenalists have be-come overly impressed with the fact that having sensations cannot be said to be non-veridical. But he claims that the sense i n which a sensation i s v e r i d i c a l i s of no epistemolo-73 g i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , because there i s no reason to think that the having of sensations i s either a cognitive or epistemic f a c t . For even i f we hold that our knowledge of the physical world i s mediated by the having of sensations, i t i s a further step to i n s i s t that t h i s mediation i s epistemic rather than 13 merely causal. He contends that there i s nothing wrong with postulating sensations as causal e n t i t i e s in a causal view of perception. But the problem i s then how sensations can be the object of basic non-inferential knowledge, because t h e i r being t h e o r e t i c a l would seem to c o n f l i c t with the t r a d i -t i o n a l foundationalist's claim that they are given. Accordingly, Williams has attacked the notion of the given in experience as f i e l d e d by Lewis and other philoso-phers who make a d i s t i n c t i o n between (a) the given non-cognitive sensory component of experience, and (b) the cogni-t i v e interpretation of t h i s component. If, as Lewis claims, the given i s received passively and independently from the constructive a c t i v i t y of thought, the conclusion that the content of the given i s fundamentally ineffable seems ines-capable. And i t i s d i f f i c u l t to see how being merely con-scious of the given in a non-cognitive sense can amount to the kind of knowledge which could serve as an epistemologi-14 c a i foundation for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of other b e l i e f s . Moreover, Lewis seems to contradict himself when, on the one hand, he claims that we cannot describe any pa r t i c u -l a r "given" as such, while on the other hand he goes on to describe the p a r t i c u l a r content of a sensory experience as something which i s being given as non-soft, non-cubical and non-paper, thereby giving at least three d i f f e r e n t descrip-15 tions of what i s thus sensuously given in the form of a pen. Williams goes on to say that the given in experience i s just not found, but that philosophers such as Lewis and Price are led to i t by methods which r e f l e c t sophisticated episte-mological presuppositions. He claims that evidence from the psychology of perception a l l points to there being no state of sensuous apprehension completely unaffected by one's be-l i e f s , desires and expectations, and that consequently there can be no experience of the given as such. He claims fur-ther that i f the given in experience i s conceived in terms of phenomenal objects such as colour patches, etc., they can-not play an explanatory role in the theory of knowledge be-cause whatever can be known must be the sorts of things which can be true or f a l s e , and t h i s i s a condition not met by phen-omenal objects. But even i f phenomenalists do not confuse the non-cogni-t i v e having of sensations with the acqu i s i t i o n of direct or non-inferential knowledge, attempts by modern phenomenalists to place empirical knowledge of a foundation of b e l i e f s about how one i s appeared to are rejected by Williams, on the grounds that no amount of sensory information about how the world appears can possibly e n t a i l that i t must be some p a r t i c u l a r way rather than another. He claims that for any phenomenal account about how the world appears in our experiences, i t i s possible to give alternate views about how things are in the physical world, a l l of which have i d e n t i c a l experiental consequences. Williams contends that the truth of a f i n i t e set of phenomenal statements i s not only not s u f f i c i e n t for the truth of a statement about the physical world, but that i t i s not even necessary. If we assume for a moment that a certain physical object i s white, i t does not necessarily mean that i t appeared white i f we looked at i t , since t h i s would only be so i f we took into account certain physical and physiological conditions of perception. And any attempt to express these conditions of perception in a purely phen-omenal language w i l l always lead to a regress, i f we try to completely eliminate a l l references to the physical and phys-18 i o l o g i c a l conditions of perception. Recent defenders of phenomenalism have argued that the r e l a t i o n between how things are in the physical world and how they appear to us in our experiences can be known to hold a n a l y t i c a l l y or a p r i o r i . They would claim that i t i s an ana-l y t i c a l or conceptual truth that a person's confident sensory report i s r e l i a b l e most of the time. But, as we have seen e a r l i e r , Williams r e j e c ts the idea of things being true solely in v i r t u e of meaning and independently of empirical fa c t . Some philosophers who claim that empirical knowledge i s based on a foundation of sensory b e l i e f s have rejected the idea that the inference to a b e l i e f about the physical world i s an a l y t i c in favour of the claim that physical objects are t h e o r e t i c a l constructs out of sensory information. Williams claims that t h i s view i s e s s e n t i a l l y a Humean one because Hume believed that the order of our sensory experiences in terms of constancy and coherence formed the basis for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of our b e l i e f s in the existence of an "object-iv e " physical world. But Williams claims that when "con-stancy" and "coherence" are properly understood, there i s no reason to suppose that our sensory experiences are coherent at a l l . He holds that there i s no order to be found in experi-ence unless you presuppose, at the outset, the very e x i s t -ence of physical objects and th e i r continued existence while not perceived, and such things as individuals capable of perceiving them under various physical and physiological conditions of perception. He claims that primary sensory data cannot be organized coherently unless you presuppose, at the outset, that physical objects can appear d i f f e r e n t l y due to various changes in the physical and physiological conditions of perception. Thus, the r e g u l a r i t i e s of experi-ence w i l l show up only i f we allow for certain changes in the conditions of perception and calculate with the help of some theory the e f f e c t such changes may have on both the object and the perceiver. But we cannot even begin to discuss these things unless we assume, from the beginning, that there i s something to be perceived, that there are people capable of perceiving i t , and that certain things can appear d i f f e r e n t l y at d i f f e r e n t times to di f f e r e n t people. 77-Consider the statement "I now see something red". Our reasons for holding i t in some way s i g n i f i c a n t , say, as part of the evidence for the existence of red objects, can only come from viewing i t within the context of some theory which already allows for the p o s s i b i l i t y of an object caus-ing a red sense impression under certain conditions of per-ception. And without such a theory already in place, my statement that I have a red image remains u n i n t e l l i g i b l e outside the sensory realm, and cannot be considered evidence for anything outside the sensory realm, because I have no other way of knowing that anything even exists outside the sensory realm. Thus Williams claims that sensory "coherence", as a ground for our b e l i e f in the physical world, cannot be purely sensory but must, of necessity, include some pieces of theory as well. Since the theory of physical objects allows us to f i n d the r e g u l a r i t i e s of sensory experience, and since these r e g u l a r i t i e s in turn support the theory of physical objects we have a c i r c u l a r i t y here which we can not get r i d of unless, as Williams suggests, we l e t go of 20 the hard/fast d i s t i n c t i o n between theory and observation. Letting go of t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n w i l l cut the ground from those theories which assign p r i v i l e g e d epistemic status to primary sense data, because these data cannot be used for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of physical object b e l i e f s unless they are viewed within the context of some comprehensive theory about physical objects. 78 As a consequence of his view, Williams does not r e a l l y distinguish between sensory reports and physical object statements in terms of t h e i r epistemic status. The statement "I have a red image", and "I see a red tomato", have equal epistemic status, in spite of the fact that the f i r s t statement seems to make a weaker claim than the second. But Williams would claim that i t would be wrong to assign epistemic p r i o r i t y to the weaker claim because he holds that there i s no a p r i o r i l i m i t to the kinds of things one could come to r e l i a b l y report on given proper t r a i n i n g . And there i s thus no a p r i o r i rea-son for holding that statements of the f i r s t kind are more 21 certain because they appear to assert less. Although Williams appears to have given a defense of some version of direct realism, he seems to favour a kind of s c i e n t i f i c approach. Such an approach does away with the r a d i c a l sceptic's argument that no empirical b e l i e f i s ever j u s t i f i e d , on the grounds that, to look upon induction s o l e l y as a process of simple enumeration, one takes an altogether too narrow view of empirical i n -22 ference. Williams suggests that we stop playing cards with the r a d i c a l sceptic and adopt instead a no-foundations view of knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n , because only then w i l l our know-ledge of the physical world be secure. He claims that we w i l l always have a s o l i d core of r e l i a b l e perceptual b e l i e f s at hand against which other less certain b e l i e f s can be checked. He contends that the c r e d i b i l i t y of f i r s t person reports can be accounted for in terms of the fact that human beings can be trained to respond d i r e c t l y to certa i n stimulus conditions, and that they can r e l i a b l y report on these condi-tions without actually thinking about them. Consequently, a person's sincere judgement that there i s something red in front of him can be taken as a t y p i c a l example of observa-t i o n a l knowledge, because i t represents an instance of the dis p o s i t i o n to make such judgements when and only when in the sensory state normally brought about by the presence of red objects. Williams suggests that we look at the pursuit of know-ledge as a s e l f - c o r r e c t i n g enterprise. He claims that any b e l i e f can be questioned in the interest of deeper insights or t h e o r e t i c a l advance, but that we cannot question a l l our b e l i e f s at once. What remains to, be seen, though, i s whether l e t t i n g go of the foundations view of knowledge and j u s t i f i -cation makes i t possible to believe anything whatever. Supporters of the foundational view of knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n have charged that, without epistemic founda-tions, the only a l t e r n a t i v e would be some kind of coherence theory of knowledge and j u s t i f i c a t i o n . They claim that i f j u s t i f i c a t i o n should only be a matter of coherence with one's 80 other b e l i e f s , i t would be possible to believe anything what-ever because to make j u s t i f i c a t i o n dependent on coherence cuts j u s t i f i c a t i o n o f f from the r e a l world. Foundationalists sug-gest that at some point our b e l i e f system must be t i e d to the world, because otherwise the whole thing could be an elab-orate i l l u s i o n . A t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist such as Schlick claimed that with a coherence theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n any b e l i e f would be j u s t i f i e d providing i t did not contradict b e l i e f s already held, and that i t would be possible to believe any a r b i t r a r y f a i r y story so long as i t did not contradict any-thing else we happened to believe about the world. Williams claims that a denial of the view that know-ledge rests on certain foundations does not automatically-lead to the absurd view that one would be j u s t i f i e d in believ-ing anything whatever. He contends that philosophers such as Schlick take an impossibly narrow view of coherence re l a t i o n s between b e l i e f s i f they are suggesting that coherence amounts to l i t t l e more than l o g i c a l consistency. He claims that no 23 coherentist has ever held such a view. A t r a d i t i o n a l coherentist such as Bradley held that our various b e l i e f s must not just be compatible, but that they must hang together t h e o r e t i c a l l y as well. More recent co-herent i s t s such as Harman and S e l l a r s have suggested that coherence must be explanatory, with the aim to take in as much as possible in order to increase the o v e r a l l p l a u s i b i l -i t y of our b e l i e f system. If coherence i s understood along 81 these l i n e s , i t should be obvious that mere l o g i c a l consist-ency between b e l i e f s i s not going to be s u f f i c i e n t i f the aim of a coherence theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s either t h e o r e t i c a l soundness or the o v e r a l l p l a u s i b i l i t y of a given b e l i e f sys-tem. Moreover, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to see how any b e l i e f what-ever could thus be incorporated i n some coherent system of ^ 24 b e l i e f s . Williams states that he prefers the older account of coherence given by Bradley and Blanchard to that by l a t e r coherentists such as Harman which attempts to bring a l l j u s t -25 i f i c a t i o n under the heading of explanation. His main rea-son for prefering the t r a d i t i o n a l coherentists have to do with t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n of coherence. Blanchard claimed that the re a l test of coherence i s the extent to which a candidate b e l i e f implicated our accepted world "and would be carried 26 down with i t i f i t f e l l " . Such a d e f i n i t i o n of coherence would not require that a l l our b e l i e f s i n our b e l i e f system be related i n the same way. The important thing would be that a candidate b e l i e f has some re l a t i o n s to our present b e l i e f s , with the r e s u l t that, i f i t were rejected, i t would put the c r e d i b i l i t y of our accepted b e l i e f s into question as well. The c r u c i a l question i n t h i s connection i s how i s i t possible for the r e j e c t i o n of a candidate b e l i e f to have wide-spread systematic implications with respect to the c r e d i b i l i t y of our other b e l i e f s , i f that b e l i e f concerns only a par t i c u -l a r fact l o g i c a l l y independent of these other b e l i e f s . 82 The answer, according to Williams, i s that among our present b e l i e f s there must not only be " f i r s t - o r d e r " b e l i e f s , but also epistemic b e l i e f s about the r e l i a b i l i t y of various kinds of b e l i e f s . Epistemic b e l i e f s are b e l i e f s about tech-niques for acquiring and re j e c t i n g various b e l i e f s , and about conditions under which certain kinds of b e l i e f s are l i k e l y to 27 be true. William's b e l i e f that people can be trained to give r e l i a b l e , o f f the cuff, reports about certain sensory s t i m u l i would be an example of such an epistemic b e l i e f . A frequent objection to coherence theories of j u s t i -f i c a t i o n i s the charge that such theories have a b u i l t - i n tendency to favour previously accepted b e l i e f s , because can-didate b e l i e f s must cohere with these b e l i e f s in order to be j u s t i f i e d . Lehrer has suggested that coherence theories of j u s t i f i c a t i o n would encourage us to disregard observations 2 8 which seem to refute well-entrenched theories. But Williams claims that i f we recognize the importance of epis-temic b e l i e f s t h i s simply i s n ' t so: Carefully made observations cannot be rejected out of hand to do so would c a l l into question a l l sorts of epistemic b e l i e f s having to do with the r e l i a b i l i t y of observation. To con-s i s t e n t l y reject observations without being able to give any reason for suspecting error would be to undermine extremely important epistemic b e l i e f s , and t h i s would mean that the c r e d i b i l i t y of a l l sorts of other b e l i e f s would have to be c a l l e d into question as well. It i s hard to know what b e l i e f s we should have left.29 Williams claims that once we r e a l i z e the need for epistemic b e l i e f s in a coherent system of b e l i e f s , the charge that a no-foundations theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n makes i t possible to b e l i e f anything whatever looks a l o t less plausible. Rather than cutting j u s t i f i c a t i o n off from the world, a no-foundations theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n would demand that any reasonable system of coherent b e l i e f s contains ex-planations of how our b e l i e f s about the factual world are acquired. And only within the context of such explanations, he claims, would i t be possible to apply the test o f coher-ence to the various kinds of b e l i e f s that make up our t o t a l 30 system of b e l i e f s . A foundationalist would no doubt charge that our e p i s t -emic b e l i e f s are but further elements in our t o t a l system o f b e l i e f s , and that as yet the p o s s i b i l i t y remains open that t h i s entire system may f a i l to be in any way a true account of what the world i s r e a l l y l i k e . Williams interprets t h i s claim as the suggestion that i f our b e l i e f system i s based on coherence alone, i t may f l o a t away from r e a l i t y l i k e a. balloon cut from i t s s t r i n g . He suggests that t h i s charge i s u n i n t e l l i g i b l e . It presupposes that we should be able to think of our world "as i t r e a l l y i s " , without entertain-ing a p a r t i c u l a r b e l i e f about i t . He claims that such a world i s a "ding an s i c h " i f i t i s considered independently of any b e l i e f s about i t . And not only could we not say what i t would be l i k e not to be in contact with i t , we would not •be able to t e l l what i t would be l i k e to be in contact with 84 such a world. So i f we think of the world as our f a m i l i a r world of people and things, i t i s just not true that a coherence theory cuts j u s t i f i c a -t i on off from the world. On the contrary, such a theory demands that we have views about how encounters with the world lead to b e l i e f . On the other hand, i f we are allowed no way of saying what i t i s we are cut off from, or what i t would be l i k e to be or not to be cut o f f , the charge that j u s t i f i c a t i o n gets cut off from the world i s u n i n t e l l i g i b l e . 3 1 Williams claims that apart from being able to show that a r e j e c t i o n of foundationalism does not automatically lead to the conclusion that one could be j u s t i f i e d in believ-ing anything, the re a l challenge of a no-foundations view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n l i e s in the need to show that the problem of the regress of j u s t i f i c a t i o n can be successfully dealt with. A foundationalist would claim that without epistemic foundations no b e l i e f would ever be j u s t i f i e d because the process of j u s t i f i c a t i o n would simply never come to an end. Williams responds to t h i s claim by holding that i t i s a f a l -lacy to i n f e r from the fact that j u s t i f i c a t i o n must come to an end somewhere, that there must be some special kind of b e l i e f with which a l l j u s t i f i c a t i o n must necessarily term-32 inate. He claims that a l l that i s necessary for the pro-cess of j u s t i f i c a t i o n to come to an end i s that we should have some b e l i e f s not presently thought open to doubt. He claims that we w i l l always have such b e l i e f s , either in the form of epistemic b e l i e f s , . o r as f i r s t order b e l i e f s . Although we can doubt any of our b e l i e f s at a given time, he holds that we cannot doubt a l l that we believe at once because you need reasons for doubting, and having reasons inev i t a b l y means that one i s taking certain things for 33 granted. He suggests that we look at the process of j u s t i f i c a t i o n as something which i s wholly determined by the context of epistemic sit u a t i o n s . As such, b e l i e f s w i l l be j u s t i f i e d by considering the kind of j u s t i f i c a t o r y demands put on a candidate b e l i e f given the nature of an empirical inquiry. Such an approach to j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s referred to by Williams as the "contextualist account" of j u s t i f i c a t i o n : Such a view does not require that j u s t i f i c a t i o n have an essence, that i t confirms to one pattern in a l l context of inquiry. " J u s t i f y i n g " covers an i n d e f i n i t e range of practices which may be related only by family resemblances. So i t i s doubtful whether a contextualist account of j u s t i -f i c a t i o n amounts to a "theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n " in the sense in which philosophers have usually understood that phrase. It expresses the w i l l i n g -ness to do without such a theory.34 86 NOTES - CHAPTER VIII. ''"Michael Williams, Groundless B e l i e f . An Essay on the  P o s s i b i l i t y of Epistemology (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977) p. 179. 2 I b i d . , p. 160. 3 I b i d . , p. 161. 4 Michael Williams, "Coherence, J u s t i f i c a t i o n and Truth," The Review of Metaphysics 34 (December 1980) p. 249. 5 Williams, Groundless B e l i e f , p. 162. 6 I b i d . , P- 163. 7 I b i d . , P- 120. 8 I b i d . , P- 4. 9 I b i d . , P- 23. 1 0 I b i d . , P- 15. 1 : L I b i d . , P- 17. 1 2 I b i d . , P- 86. 1 3 I b i d . , P. 73. 1 4 I b i d . , P. 31. 1 5 I b i d . , PP . 33-34. 1 6 I b i d . , P- 45. 1 7 I b i d . , P- 34. 1 8 I b i d . , PP . 117-18 1 9 I b i d . , P- 143. 2 0 I b i d . , P- 142. 2 1 I b i d . , P- 69. 2 2 I b i d . , P- 179. Williams, "Coherence, J u s t i f i c a t i o n and Truth," p. 246. Ibid., p. 247. 'Ibid. , p. 248. Ibid., P- 247 2 7 I b i d . , P- 248 2 8 I b i d . , P- 249 2 9 I b i d . 30T, ., Ibid. 3 1 I b i d . , P- 250 3 2 I b i d . , P- 253 3 3 I b i d . 3 4 I b i d . , P- 257 88 IX A CRITICISM OF THE NO-FOUNDATIONS VIEW In considering some of the main points in Williams's no-foundations view, we have, on the face of i t , a kind of coherence theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n in which epistemic b e l i e f s support the c r e d i b i l i t y of other b e l i e f s . To prevent a r b i -t r a r i n e s s , not only must candidate b e l i e f s l o g i c a l l y cohere with previously accepted b e l i e f s , but t h e i r c r e d i b i l i t y must accrue in accordance with the kind of epistemic b e l i e f s we have about how we acquire r e l i a b l e b e l i e f s about the world. The question i s then what establishes the c r e d i b i l i t y of these a l l important epistemic b e l i e f s . It seems to me that Williams f a l l s short of providing a s a t i s f a c t o r y account of the c r e d i b i l i t y of such b e l i e f s , and that, consequently, his account remains vulnerable to the r a d i c a l sceptic's charge that one b e l i e f i s as good as another because none are ever warranted. Although he f a u l t s Ayer for saying that the sceptic's claim i s f i c t i c i o u s , his approach seems to be that the sceptic should be ignored, on the grounds that what i s asked for - a foundational view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n - just i s not possible. I am not sure, then, what the difference i s , in t h i s context, between saying that something i s f i c t i c i o u s and ignoring i t . If the sceptic's claim i s that no b e l i e f i s ever warranted, i t does not r e a l l y matter from the scep-t i c ' s point of view whether you bring in epistemologically 89-basic b e l i e f s , as the foundationalist does, or epistemic b e l i e f s , as Williams does, because either approach can be seen as an attempt to counter the sceptic's charge that knowledge i s arbit r a r y because i t i s possible to believe anything whatever. In t h i s sense, too, William's epistemic b e l i e f s function very much l i k e the foundationalist's basic b e l i e f s , because in either case candidate b e l i e f s are made acceptable on the basis of what are thought to be epistem-i c a l l y important b e l i e f s . The difference between the foun-d a t i o n a l i s t and Williams's account of the c r e d i b i l i t y of such epistemically important b e l i e f s i s that Williams does not r e a l l y have one, and the conclusion must be that t h i s i s his way of facing the sceptic's argument. The question i s then whether the sceptic's concerns are as e a s i l y dismissed as that. I think not, and in order to show that the sceptic's concerns are legitimate I s h a l l attempt to show that Williams's no foundations view of j u s t i -f i c a t i o n cannot withstand the sceptic's charge that no b e l i e f i s ever warranted. Secondly, in connection with Williams's claim that no b e l i e f i s i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible, I s h a l l be so ambitious as to try to show that our sensory reports have at least some degree of i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y which i s usually s u f f i c i e n t to bring j u s t i f i c a t i o n to a halt when other b e l i e f s do not have that kind of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . But before I can make the l a t t e r claim, I need to show that William's sugges-tion that sensations are but th e o r e t i c a l e n t i t i e s i s implaus-i b l e . 90. As I mentioned e a r l i e r , Williams f a l l s short of giving a s a t i s f a c t o r y account of the c r e d i b i l i t y of his epistemic b e l i e f s . Since he holds that no b e l i e f s are i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible, he cannot claim that the c r e d i b i l i t y of epistemic b e l i e f s i s i n t r i n s i c , and so i t would seem that t h e i r cred-i b i l i t y i s also a matter of coherence with other b e l i e f s . But the problem with t h i s i s that in order for epistemic b e l i e f s to do what they are supposed to do, there must be something more than the bare fact that they cohere with other b e l i e f s to account for t h e i r c r e d i b i l i t y . The fact remains that, no matter how the concept of coherence i s to be explain-ed, even i f you hold that coherence should include mutual support as well as l o g i c a l consistency, i t remains always limited to suggesting re l a t i o n s between b e l i e f s . If you hold that b e l i e f A supports the c r e d i b i l i t y of b e l i e f B, i t w i l l require further b e l i e f s for support i f t h i s i s not i n -t r i n s i c a l l y credible, and t h i s w i l l go on endlessly unless there i s something which i s i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible. It i s therefore not at a l l clear what accounts for the c r e d i b i l i t y of epistemic b e l i e f s because merely pointing, as Williams does, to the fact that we must have such b e l i e f s in no obvious way establishes t h i s c r e d i b i l i t y . Williams claims that once we admit the need for epistemic b e l i e f s the charge that a coher-ence theory of j u s t i f i c a t i o n makes knowledge ar b i t r a r y looks a l o t less p l a u s i b l e . 1 But surely i t does not follow from the fact that we must have such epistemic b e l i e f s that they are therefore credible. For no amount of empirical support 91 could establish such a claim without having f i r s t established the c r e d i b i l i t y of i t s own methods in a r r i v i n g at such an assertion. And thus a regress seems inevitable, unless you presuppose that something i s i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible. Only then w i l l you have a basis for determining the c r e d i b i l i t y of things which are not i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible, but which are supported by something which i s i n t r i n s i c a l l y c redible. Williams, in denying i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y , claims that the regress problem can be met by holding that you cannot go on doubting your b e l i e f s in cases of epistemological stress because you always need reasons for doubting, and having such reasons inevitably means that, in any given context, you must 2 take certain things for granted. But t h i s claim appears to be f a l s e . Suppose that in a court of law one questions the r e l i a b i l i t y of statements made by a witness because another witness has contradicted them. Even i f you have good reasons for holding the f i r s t witness more trustworthy, you w i l l have grounds for being at least s l i g h t l y less confident in what he has said, in spite of your doubts with respect to the r e l i a -b i l i t y of the other witness. This example shows that you may have grounds for suspecting the truth of a b e l i e f without treat-ing anything as indubitable. The fact of the matter i s that, i f nothing i s i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible, taking things for grant-ed in epistemic s i t u a t i o n s always presupposes that you have some good reasons for doing so. This introduces further b e l i e f s , etc., etc., and t h i s may go on endlessly i f the c r e d i b i l i t y of b e l i e f s i s always derivative and purely a 92 matter of being supported by other b e l i e f s . Not only i s such a view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n unable to fend o f f the sceptic's claim that no b e l i e f i s ever warranted, i t i s implausible given the actual way we normally go about j u s t i f y i n g our b e l i e f s . It i s just a matter of fact that there are moments in the j u s t i f i c a t i o n process where there i s no need to go any further because something i s credible not only because you see no p a r t i c u l a r reason for doubting i t , but because you are able to accept i t s truth even after c r i t i c a l scrutiny and without the support of further b e l i e f s . Such a b e l i e f would be credible, then, not only because other b e l i e f s appear to support i t , but also because i t has some c r e d i b i l -i t y which does not depend on t h i s kind of support. We can say that such a b e l i e f has i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y over and above the e x t r i n s i c support i t may have from the support of other b e l i e f s . The c r u c i a l question i s then whether we have in fact any b e l i e f s which are i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible in t h i s sense, and I would claim that we have such b e l i e f s in 'the. form of b e l i e f s about our immediate sensory experiences. Williams claims that the only reason for attaching c r e d i b i l i t y to our immediate sensory reports i s the epistemic b e l i e f that people can be trained to respond r e l i a b l y to cer-t a i n stimulus conditions. He suggests that we are e n t i t l e d to accept the r e l i a b i l i t y of these reports because they are manifestations of a tendency to make such reports when and only when one i s in a certain sensory state and appropriately 93 disposed towards making such r e p o r t s . 0 The upshot i s that, on t h i s account, our sensory reports do not have any i n t r i n -s i c c r e d i b i l i t y . The fact that you should have cause for believ i n g certain things about your sensory experience i s - supposedly - not available to you in any epistemic sense, but only in the form of an explanation as to why you should come to hold such b e l i e f s when you do. Williams claims that i t i s merely a hypothesis that we have sensations. He holds that there i s nothing obviously absurd about the idea that sensations are t h e o r e t i c a l , and that we postulate them in the course of t r y i n g to provide an account of various percep-4 tual phenomena. But i f t h i s i s true, we can no longer hold that people experience actual sensations, but only believe that they do. And t h i s would commit us to the view that such b e l i e f s are f a l s e , for i f people do not experience actual sen-sations but merely have b e l i e f s that they do, the conclusion must be that such b e l i e f s are f a l s e . Williams leans heavily on S e l l a r s for his account of sen-sations as t h e o r e t i c a l e n t i t i e s . S e l l a r s rejects the appeal to immediate sensations as a source of knowledge on the grounds that to regard them as anything other than t h e o r e t i c a l e n t i t i e s i s u n i n t e l l i g i b l e , and that we can give a per f e c t l y adequate explanation of knowledge without having to suppose that there 5 are such things as "immediate experiences." S e l l a r s claims that judgements of the type "This i s green" are j u s t i f i e d and count as an instance of observational knowledge, on the grou-nds that we would only express such b e l i e f s sincerely i f we 94 are in the presence of some object which i s green under standard conditions of perception. He suggests that there i s no need to appeal to such things as immediate sensations because people can be trained to respond r e l i a b l y to the presence of physical objects by making verbal reports about them. On t h i s view, your report that "This i s green" i s a r e l i a b l e symptom or sign that some object i s green, and merely accepting such general facts as that X i s a r e l i a b l e  symptom of Y - where X i s the report and Y the object observ-ed under standard conditions - i s s u f f i c i e n t for your report 6 to count as an instance of observational knowledge. But there i s an objection to S e l l a r s ' account of observa-t i o n a l knowledge which should s t r i k e Williams equally hard because of t h e i r i d e n t i c a l views. Thurston argues that S e l l a r s i s facing a regress problem he has apparently not foreseen. She suggests, f i r s t l y , that overt verbal u t t e r -ances of the type "This i s green" are public properties of public objects - human beings - and that they are for that reason very much the same sort of things as the properties 7 of physical objects. Now S e l l a r s argues that a l l knowledge of physical objects and t h e i r properties i s mediated by the acceptance of such theories as that X i s a r e l i a b l e symptom  of Y. The mere occurance of public entity X, then, i s sup-posed to be our grounds for our inference to knowledge claims about Y, some physical object. But, Thurston asks, what i s supposed to be our grounds for our inference to knowledge claims about public entity X? She claims that i t i s just not 95 plausible to claim that we can know something about Y only, be inference from the fact that X occurred, unless i t i s added that I can know something about the occurance of X only i f some Z occurred, and about Z only i f some W occurred and so on. If t h i s objection works, and I think that i t does, we appear to have a very good reason for sus-pecting the soundness of S e l l a r s ' s and Williams's account of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . I hold then that a case can be made on behalf of the i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y of sensory reports by pointing to the fact that, unless we attribute some c r e d i b i l i t y to our sen-sory reports in virtue of the actual experience of sensation, we w i l l no longer be able to understand people's a b i l i t y to fi n d such reports credible the way they normally do. People t y p i c a l l y accept b e l i e f s about t h e i r sensory experiences in virtue of merely having such b e l i e f s , and we cannot provide a s a t i s f a c t o r y account of th e i r a b i l i t y to do t h i s by point-ing, as Williams does, to our other b e l i e f s about being s u i t -ably disposed to express such b e l i e f s when and only when sen-s o r i l y stimulated in a certain way. If needed, we may c a l l on these other b e l i e f s to provide additional support for the r e l i a b i l i t y of a p a r t i c u l a r sensory report - to show that one i s j u s t i f i e d in expressing i t - but to say that t h i s kind of support i s the only reason for attaching c r e d i b i l -i t y to such a report i s implausible, to say the very least. It i s simply not true that I accept the b e l i e f that I am seeing something red now merely on the basis of having an ap-propriate d i s p o s i t i o n to believe such things. I w i l l accept 96 such a b e l i e f only i f i t occurs to me in the way that kind of b e l i e f usually occurs to me, namely when i t i s supported by a p a r t i c u l a r sensory experience. To say that a b e l i e f i s supported by a sensory experience i s , f i r s t of a l l , to d i s -tinguish such a b e l i e f from other b e l i e f s that d®» not occur to me i n t h i s way. My b e l i e f that the earth i s round does not occur to me i n the same way as my b e l i e f that I am seeing something red at t h i s moment. The difference i s that, as I can usually f i n d a l l the reasons for my acceptance of the b e l i e f that the earth i s round in the form of some of my other b e l i e f s , I cannot f i n d a l l the reasons for holding the b e l i e f that I am seeing something red now merely on the basis of some of my other b e l i e f s . The fact i s that i f I should chose to disregard a l l my other b e l i e f s in connection with my b e l i e f that I am seeing something red now, at t h i s moment, I am s t i l l l e f t with the v i s u a l image of something which I do not know how to describe unless I consider i t as a reason for applying some of my b e l i e f s to i t . That I should know which b e l i e f s to apply to my v i s u a l image may be a matter of t r a i n i n g , conditioning, or whatever, but t h i s does not take away from the fact that I seem to have more than just b e l i e f s as a reason for thinking that my b e l i e f that I am seeing some-thing red just now i s j u s t i f i e d . Now the objection could be made that by saying that our sensory experiences provide support for our b e l i e f s about them I am f a l l i n g into the same trap as Lewis appeared to be when he seemed to suggest, at times, that our sensory experiences ax are r e a l l y judgements. This I would deny. Sensory experi-ences are not judgements and cannot provide the kind of sup-port that only judgements can provide. My claim i s only that a judgement about a sensory experience may be supported in the sense of there being a reason for making i t , by the fact that you are having some sort of sensory experience. A further objection that could be made to my account at t h i s point i s that by claiming that sensory experiences can be reasons for making judgements about them I have not claimed anything of epistemological s i g n i f i c a n c e unless I am able to s p e l l out, in epistemic terms, what kind of reasons our sensory experiences can provide for our judgements about them. But my claim i s that I do not have to be able to do t h i s . I would hold that you can have a reason for making a judgement about a sensory experience without having to r e l y on s t r i c t l y epistemic terms to show that t h i s i s possible or even a plausible suggestion to make. To show that my claim i s plausible depends for a large part on what ordinary people usually say when asked to give reasons for the p a r t i c u l a r b e l i e f s they hold. When I ask the man in the street why he should believe that Boston i s on the eastern seaboard of the United States the answer he i s l i k e l y to give me w i l l be "I believe i t , that's a l l " . When pressed, t h i s person may wish to c i t e some of his other b e l i e f s to show that his b e l i e f about the geo-graphical location of Boston i s j u s t i f i e d , but the upshot i s that he w i l l give you only b e l i e f s as reasons for thinking 98 that his b e l i e f about the location of Boston i s true. Now suppose that, just seconds aft e r I have asked him about his b e l i e f about Boston, the poor man i s run over by a car while crossing the street. I f i n d him l y i n g by the side of the road, obviously in a great deal of pain. Suppose I should ask him, then, what his reason i s for believing that he i s in pain at t h i s very moment. The answer I might be able to get w i l l be something l i k e "I believe that I am in pain be-cause I f e e l i t " . He could have said such things as "It i s painful to be run over by a car", or "I seem to have broken a leg; i t i s very p a i n f u l to have a broken leg", or, at any rate, any other b e l i e f which would seem to t h e o r e t i c a l l y support his b e l i e f that he i s in pain. But o r d i n a r i l y , t h e reason the ordinary man i s l i k e l y to give you for believing that he i s in pain w i l l be his claim that he' not only believes i t , but that he also f e e l s i t . T y p i c a l l y , in the case of pain reports, one seems to have more than just b e l i e f s as a reason for thinking that one's pain b e l i e f i s j u s t i f i e d . But the question now arises whether my claim that sen-sations can be non-belief reasons for making a sensory judge-ment can be supported by such an appeal to the ordinary man in the street. It could be argued that the ordinary man, who i s l i k e l y to be u n s k i l l e d i n philosophical a n a l y s i s , i s the l a s t place to go for the kind of support I need for my claim. But my reply i s that i f philosophical analysis leads to the denial of actual sensations,we would be better off not being so s k i l l e d in philosophical analysis, for at least then we &9 would not have to pretend never to actually hear, see, f e e l , smell or taste anything but to only have t h e o r e t i c a l l y sup-ported b e l i e f s about such things. Philosophers who, in the interest of th e o r e t i c a l clean-l i n e s s , are attempting to scrub t h e i r analysis clean of any i non-theoretical impurities have apparently forgotten that the f i n a l test for any theory i s whether i t f i t s the r e a l world or not, and that the subject matter of a l l theory cannot be the o r e t i c a l i t s e l f i f a theory or any combination of theories i s to be about anything at a l l . This presupposes, without a  doubt, that at some time or another the subject matter of a l l theory must be in some way distinguishable from theory i t s e l f , for only then do you have an opportunity to t e l l whether your theories are i n any way a tenable interpretation of t h e i r sub-ject matter which, I presume, i s the real world. And from t h i s I would l i k e to draw the assumption that i f the ordinary man seems to be capable of distinguishing between the hypo-thesis of pain and the r e a l i t y of f e e l i n g i t , in the sense that he can draw a l i n e between t h e o r e t i c a l fact and i t s non-th e o r e t i c a l counterpart, he i s in a much better position to test the usefulness of some of our theories than certain philosophers are. Now Williams would claim that i t i s implausible to sug-gest that you should be able to distinguish in any way be-tween your sensations and your b e l i e f s about them. He claims that there i s no state of consciousness u t t e r l y unaffected by 9 b e l i e f s . But surely, i t i s a further step to i n s i s t that our 100 sensations, however affected by b e l i e f s , cannot be t o l d from our b e l i e f s about them. There i s indeed evidence from the g e s t a l t i s t front which suggests that your b e l i e f s can lead you to make mistakes about your current sensory experiences. There i s the example of belie v i n g that the two p a r a l l e l l i n e s converge when in fact they do not. And in another case some-one i s being t o l d that he i s going to be touched with a red hot poker but i s in fact touched with an ice cube, and so he screams out in pain bel i e v i n g that he i s being burned. I am never quite sure, though, whether the g e s t a l t i s t means to say that our judgements about our sensory experiences are altered by our b e l i e f s about them, or that the very sen- sations themselves are in some way changed by our b e l i e f s about them. But whatever the case may be, i t i s highly im-plausible to suggest that our sensations, however altered, are th e o r e t i c a l and that people are never in a position to deter-mine whether any of the b e l i e f s they hold are based on sensa-tions they are experiencing. I think then that the only plausible alternative i s to hold that we experience actual sensations, and that the fact that we do experience them i s not simply a matter of theory. Since sensations are not the sort of things that can be either true or f a l s e - you either have them, or you do not have them -the bare fact that they are of a certain kind or character cannot be considered knowledge in the sense that any of our judgements about them can be knowledge. But i t i s the case that when you experience a sensation of sorts, you have a 101 reason for accepting your b e l i e f that you have such a sen-sation which follows from the fact that you are not separated from your sensory experiences, in the sense that there i s some occurrence in your stream of consciousness which leads you to make a judgement about i t . I am not suggesting, however, that saying that we have the capacity to describe a sensory experi-ence implies that we always or even usually make the judge-ments that we are capable of making about our sensory experi-ences. But t h i s i s not to say that we can never t e l l whether a b e l i e f i s the outcome of a sensory experience we are having or that judgements about such experiences are, as Williams would hold, completely lacking in i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y . To say that a b e l i e f i s i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible i s to say that i t i s more credible without e x t r i n s i c support than some other b e l i e f i s without e x t r i n s i c support. When we have b e l i e f s about our sensory experiences we would normally f i n d them to at least some extent i n t r i n s i c a l l y credible. The reason for t h i s i s that when you have a b e l i e f about an im-mediate sensory experience, even i f you have no e x t r i n s i x support for i t , you are l e f t with something in your stream of consciousness the occurrence of which i s a reason for mak-ing a judgement about i t . Having such a reason provides our sensory reports with a course of c r e d i b i l i t y which i s i n t r i n -s i c rather than e x t r i n s i c , and which i s normally s u f f i c i e n t to bring j u s t i f i c a t i o n to a halt in cases where other b e l i e f s cannot provide us with that kind of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . It seems to me that to account for the c r e d i b i l i t y of 102, sensory reports in t h i s way makes i t possible for us to understand more c l e a r l y why people are able to accept such reports the way they normally do. The fact behind i t i s that no amount of theory about conditioning, t r a i n i n g , or whatever, could provide a l l the support for the c r e d i b i l i t y of our sensory reports. Although I would agree that evidence to the e f f e c t that our sensory reports are r e l i a b l e may i n -crease our grounds for accepting such reports, I would deny that such evidence provides the only ground for accepting them, which i s the way that Williams would have i t . The fact i s that whatever evidence we have for the r e l i a b i l i t y of a sensory report must necessarily depend on other sensory re-ports, and i f a l l such reports were altogether lacking in i n t r i n s i c c r e d i b i l i t y we would have no r e a l reason to trust such evidence. The only alternative would be to hold that the c r e d i b i l i t y of the evidence in support of sensory reports i s a matter of pure theory, but the problem with t h i s i s that c r e d i b i l i t y cannot be exclusively a matter of theory because no theory or any combination of theories i s capable of esta-b l i s h i n g i t s own c r e d i b i l i t y . CONCLUSION I think then that i t has been shown, with some success, that the t r a d i t i o n a l foundationalist view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n as held by Lewis i s no longer tenable. I have t r i e d to defend the idea our sensory reports are i n c o r r i g i b l e against some of the arguments presented against i t by Armstrong and Goodman. 103 However, Armstrong's argument based on Hume's l o g i c a l d i s -t i n c t i o n between e n t i t i e s , and Sikora's example of, a sen-sory judgement being f a c t u a l l y mistaken seem to work p a r t i c -u l a r l y well against the i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y thesis. Moreover, I think that Williams scores s i g n i f i c a n t l y against the t r a -d i t i o n a l foundationalist claim by showing that just because a statement i s i n c o r r i g i b l e , i t does not mean that i t i s therefore a basic statement. He suggests that you could grant the r e l a t i v e i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y of sensory reports i f you say that t h i s i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y i s dependent on some theory of mind which, at least for the moment, allows for i t . The question whether any kind of foundationalism i s pos-s i b l e without i n c o r r i g i b l e b e l i e f s was explored by present-ing the views of several philosophers who suggest alternate accounts of j u s t i f i c a t i o n without i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y . I am i n -c l i n e d to favour the account given by Sikora, for once the idea that sensory judgements are able to provide non-coheren-t i s t support for j u s t i f i c a t i o n can be made acceptable - which i s something I t r i e d to do in t h i s chapter - we appear to be rescued from the appalling vacuousness of a s t r i c t l y coher-ence view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n . Although Delaney made the im-portant observation that j u s t i f i c a t i o n always seems to end with some sensory judgement about which we are certain, I do not believe that t h i s feature of human cognition in and by i t s e l f can do anything for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of i n d i v i d -ual sensory reports. Moreover, his account of the prima fac i e certainty of individual sensory reports f a l l s short 104 of providing a credible basis for his mitigated foundation-a l account. In the chapter on Ayer I considered a form of t r a d i -t i o n a l foundationalism without i n c o r r i g i b i l i t y and based i t on the claim that sensory reports are always more certain than other kinds of statements, but a l l indications are that such a position w i l l be impossible to defend. The reader w i l l have noticed that Annis's account of j u s t i f i c a t i o n comes very close to Williams's, for both ac-counts base j u s t i f i c a t i o n on d i s p o s i t i o n a l states of i n d i v i -duals - to make r e l i a b l e statements - with the difference being that Williams r e l i e s on (public) evidence for such dispositions to make j u s t i f i c a t i o n work. I have t r i e d to show that there are serious objections to Williams's no-foundations view of j u s t i f i c a t i o n , and I think that while Williams's view i s highly ingenious, i t i s in the last anal-y s i s the most defective account of j u s t i f i c a t i o n in the array of epistemological positions presented here. It seems to me that philosophers such as Williams and S e l l a r s - who Williams i s following here - have become overly impressed with the th e o r e t i c a l side of j u s t i f i c a t i o n , to the point that they have found i t necessary to claim that sensations are but th e o r e t i c a l postulates. In my attack on Williams I have attempted to show that we have some very good reasons for holding sensations to be more than mere t h e o r e t i c a l en-t i t i e s , and that they can be non-belief reasons for making our judgements about them to at least some extent i n t r i n -s i c a l l y credible, in the sense that the c r e d i b i l i t y of such judgements appears to be more than a matter of having e x t r i n s i c support for them. It i s then open to suggestion whether my own position in these matters q u a l i f i e s as a kind of foundationalism. NOTES - CHAPTER IX. Michael Williams, "Coherence, J u s t i f i c a t i o n and Truth,' The Review of Metaphysics 34 (December 1980) p. 249. 2 I b i d . , p. 253. 3 Michael Williams, Groundless B e l i e f . An Essay on the  P o s s i b i l i t y of Epistemology (New Haven: Yale University Press 1977) p. 67. 4 I b i d . , p. 73. 5 W i l f r i d S e l l a r s , Science, Perception and Reality (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963) pp. 127-96. Ibid., p. .168. 7 Bonnie C. Thurston, "Consciousness and the Evolution of Conceptual Frameworks," (Ph.D. d i s s e r t a t i o n , University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1981) p. 23. g Ibid., p. 26. 9 Williams, Groundless B e l i e f , p. 45. BIBLIOGRAPHY Armstrong, D. M. "Is Introspective Knowledge Inco r r i g i b l e ? " Philosophical Review 72 (October 1963) 417-32. Annis, David B. "Epistemic Foundationalism," Philosophical  Studies 31 (1977) 345-52. Ayer, A. J. The Problem of Knowledge. Lsndon: MacMillan & Co. Ltd., 1956. Delaney, C. F. "Foundations of Emperical Knowledge Again." New Scholasticism 50 (1976) 1-19. Goodman, Nelson, "Sense and Certainty," in Empirical Knowledge: Readings from Contemporary Sources, ed. R. M. Chisholm and R. J. Swartz. Englewood C l i f f s , New Jersey: Prentice-H a l l Inc., 1973. Lewis, C. I. An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation. La Sa l l e , 111.: Open Court Publishing Comp., 1946. Lewis, C. I. "The Given Element in Emperical Knowledge," The Philosophical Review 61 ( A p r i l 1952) 168-75. Mackie, J. L. Problems from Locke. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976. Rescher, Nicolas. The Coherence Theory of Truth. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973. S e l l a r s , W i l f r i d . Science, Perception and Reality. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963. Sikora, R. I. "Foundations Without Certainty," Canadian  Journal of Philosophy 8 (June 1978) 227-45. Thurston, Bonnie C. "Consciousness and the Evolution of Conceptual Frameworks." Ph.D. d i s s e r t a t i o n , University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1981. Watkins, J. W. N. "Farewell to the Paradigm-Case Argument," Analysis 18 (December 1957) 25-33. Whitely, C. H. "Objects," Philosophy 34 (1959) 142-49. Williams, Michael. Groundless B e l i e f . An Essay on the Possi-b i l i t y of Epistemology. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. Williams, Michael. "Coherence, J u s t i f i c a t i o n and Truth," The Review of Metaphysics 34 (December 1980) 243-72. 

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