Bootstrapping and dogmatism
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Dogmatists claim that having a perceptual experience as of p can provide one with immediate and defeasible warrant to believe that p. A persistent complaint against this position is that it sanctions an intuitively illicit form of reasoning: bootstrapping. I argue that dogmatism has no such commitments. Dogmatism is compatible with a principle that disallows the final non-deductive inference in the bootstrapping procedure. However, some authors have maintained that such strategy is doomed to failure because earlier stages of in the bootstrapping inference are already problematic. I argue that insofar as these inferences appear problematic, the dogmatist is not committed to sanctioning them. I conclude that the bootstrapping argument presents no significant objection to the claim that perceptual experiences can provide immediate and defeasible warrant to believe their contents.
KeywordsEpistemology Dogmatism Bootstrapping Perception Warrant
There are many people who contributed to the development of this paper. I would like to thank Kevin Falvey and Aaron Zimmerman for reviewing previous drafts of this paper and providing many helpful comments. A special thanks to Michael Rescorla both for providing useful comments on earlier drafts, and during the late review stages of the paper. Thanks to Alex Bundy, Phil Atkins and Josh May for helpful discussions on these and related topics through the years. The original idea for this paper was conceived while I attended a seminar taught by Tony Brueckner on the bootstrapping argument. He was the first sounding board for the argument I present here, as he was for so many of my ideas (good and bad). He was a patient mentor, a clear and deeply honest thinker, and good friend. I miss him dearly.
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