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Volume 45 Issue 3 (July 2014), Pages 325-474

New Arguments that Philosophers don't Treat Intuitions as Evidence (pages 441-461)


According to orthodox views of philosophical methodology, when philosophers appeal to intuitions, they treat them as evidence for their contents. Call this “descriptive evidentialism.” Descriptive evidentialism is assumed both by those who defend the epistemic status of intuitions and by those, including many experimental philosophers, who criticize it. This article shows, however, that the idea that philosophers treat intuitions as evidence struggles to account for the way philosophers treat intuitions in a variety of philosophical contexts. In particular, it cannot account for philosophers' treatment of a priori intuitions, for nonpropositional uses of intuition, and for philosophers' failure to use intuition to exclude the counterintuitive. The article concludes that alternatives to descriptive evidentialism (some of which are sketched) must be developed, and that much of the recent debate between traditionalists and skeptics from, for example, experimental philosophy is probably based on a false presupposition.

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