If Intuitions Must Be Evidential then Philosophy is in Big Trouble

  • Joshua Earlenbaugh University of California at Davis
  • Bernard Molyneux University of California at Davis

Abstract

Many philosophers claim that intuitions are evidential. Yet it is hard to see how introspecting one's mental states could provide evidence for such synthetic truths as those concerning, for example, the abstract and the counterfactual. Such considerations have sometimes been taken to lead to mentalism---the view that philosophy must concern itself only with matters of concept application or other mind-dependent topics suited to a contemplative approach---but this provides us with a poor account of what it is that philosophers take themselves to be doing, for many of them are concerned with the extra-mental facts about the universe. Evidentialism therefore gestates a disaster for philosophy, for it ultimately demands an epistemology for the investigation into such matter as the abstract and the modal that simply will not be forthcoming. We make a different suggestion: That intuitions are inclinations to believe. Hence, according to us, a philosophical argument does well, as a socio-rhetorical matter of fact, when it is founded on premises philosophers are generally inclined to believe, whether or not those inclinations to believe connect appropriately to the extra-mental facts. Accordingly, the role of intuitions (inclinations to believe) in philosophical methodology is non-evidential, and the question of how they could be used as evidence falls away.

Author Biographies

Joshua Earlenbaugh, University of California at Davis
PhD Graduate student at the University of California at Davis.
Bernard Molyneux, University of California at Davis
Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Davis
Published
2010-02-18
How to Cite
Earlenbaugh, J., & Molyneux, B. (2010). If Intuitions Must Be Evidential then Philosophy is in Big Trouble. Studia Philosophica Estonica, 35-53. https://doi.org/10.12697/spe.2009.2.2.03