Philosophical Studies

, Volume 152, Issue 3, pp 347–359 | Cite as

Defeating the self-defeat argument for phenomenal conservativism

  • John M. DePoe


Michael Huemer has argued for the justification principle known as phenomenal conservativism by employing a transcendental argument that claims all attempts to reject phenomenal conservativism ultimately are doomed to self-defeat. My contribution presents two independent arguments against the self-defeat argument for phenomenal conservativism after briefly presenting Huemer’s account of phenomenal conservativism and the justification for the self-defeat argument. My first argument suggests some ways that philosophers may reject Huemer’s premise that all justified beliefs are formed on the basis of seemings. In the second argument I contend that phenomenal conservativism is not a well-motivated account of internal justification, which is a further reason to reject the self-defeat argument. Consequently, the self-defeat argument fails to show that rejecting phenomenal conservativism inevitably leads one to a self-defeating position.


Phenomenal conservativism Michael Huemer Self-defeat Basing relation Direct acquaintance Internalism Externalism Justification 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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