Appearance and Explanation: Phenomenal Explanationism in Epistemology

Kevin McCain, Luca Moretti

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Phenomenal Conservatism (the view that an appearance that p gives one prima facie justification for believing that p) is a promising, and popular, internalist theory of epistemic justification. Despite its popularity, it faces numerous objections and challenges. For instance, epistemologists have argued that Phenomenal Conservatism is incompatible with Bayesianism, is afflicted by bootstrapping and cognitive penetration problems, does not guarantee that epistemic justification is a stable property, does not provide an account of defeat, and is not a complete theory of epistemic justification. This book shows that Phenomenal Conservatism is actually immune to some of these problems, though not all of them. Accordingly, it explores the prospects of integrating Phenomenal Conservatism with Explanationism (the view that epistemic justification is a matter of explanatory relations between one’s evidence and propositions supported by that evidence). The resulting theory, Phenomenal Explanationism, has advantages over Phenomenal Conservatism and Explanationism taken on their own. Phenomenal Explanationism is a highly unified, comprehensive internalist theory of epistemic justification that delivers on the promises of Phenomenal Conservatism while avoiding its pitfalls.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOUP Oxford
Number of pages208
ISBN (Electronic)0192896873
ISBN (Print)9780192896872
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • phenomenal conservatism
  • explanationism
  • defeaters
  • epistemic justification
  • seemings
  • reflective awareness
  • Bootstrapping
  • scepticism


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