Appealing to intuitions
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This thesis is concerned with the ontology, epistemology, and methodology of intuitions in philosophy. It consists of an introduction, Chapter 1, and three main parts. In the first part, Chapter 2, I defend an account of intuitions as appearance states according to which intuitions cannot be reduced to beliefs or belief-like states. I argue that an account of intuitions as appearance states can explain some crucial phenomena with respect to intuitions better than popular accounts in the current debate over the ontology of intuitions. The second part, Chapters 3 to 5, is a reply to Timothy Williamson’s (2004, 2007) view on the epistemology and methodology of intuitions. The practice of appealing to the fact that we have an intuition as evidence from thought experiments has recently been criticised by experimental philosophers. Williamson argues that since thought experiments reliably lead to knowledge of the content of our intuition, we can avoid this criticism and the resulting sceptical threat by appealing to the content of the intuition. I agree that thought experiments usually lead to knowledge of the content of our intuition. However, I show that appealing to the fact that we have an intuition is a common and useful practice. I defend the view that for methodological reasons, we ought to appeal to the fact that we have an intuition as initial evidence from thought experiments. The third part, Chapter 6, is devoted to a paradigm method involving intuitions: the method of reflective equilibrium. Some philosophers have recently claimed that it is trivial and could even accommodate scepticism about the reliability of intuitions. I argue that reflective equilibrium is not compatible with such scepticism. While it is compatible with the view I defend in the second part of the thesis, more specific methodological claims have to be made.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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