PHIL 450A: HANDOUT #3
The Feature-φ Argument Applied to Talbott's Reconstruction of Chisholm
Consider my belief about my current apparent perception:
APWC = I am having an apparent perception of a white chair.
The Foundationalist account of my justification:
Apparent perception is a strongly self-presenting state. It is rational for me to be certain of APWC. Therefore, my belief that APWC is a basic empirical belief.
The Feature-φ Argument is a reductio of the claim that any belief (including APWC) is a basic empirical belief. It begins with the Meta-Justificatory Requirement for the basic empirical (i.e., foundational) beliefs: That in order to be justified in believing APWC or any other empirical belief, I need an argument that APWC (or the relevant empirical belief) is likely to be true—for example, an argument of the following kind:
(i)(a) I believe APWC
(ii)(b) APWC is a description of a strongly self-presenting state.
(iii) Strongly self-presenting states are such that whenever someone believes that they are in a strongly self-presenting state, the belief is always true.
Conclusion: Therefore, my belief APWC is certain to be true.
[NOTE THAT THE SHORT ARGUMENT JUST REHEARSED IS NOT THE FEATURE-Φ ARGUMENT. THE FEATURE-Φ ARGUMENT IS THE BROADER ARGUMENT THAT USES THIS SHORT ARGUMENT AS PART OF A REDUCTIO OF THE ASSUMPTION THAT APWC IS A BASIC EMPIRICAL BELIEF.]
If my justification for believing APWC depends on the metajustificatory argument given above, then my belief APWC is NOT a basic empirical (i.e., a foundational) belief. Why not?
Since this argument form can be applied to any proposed basic empirical belief, it provides a reductio of the assumption that there are any basic empirical beliefs.
Question: Why will the Foundationalist object to BonJour's Meta-Justificatory Requirement for basic empirical (or foundational) beliefs?