Department of Philosophy
5050 East State Street
Rockford, Illinois 61108
A DIRECT REALIST AND DEVELOPMENTAL ACCOUNT
Stephen R.C. Hicks
I present a type of foundationalism that is new in two significant ways.
First, most foundationalists hold that because of perceptual relativity, illusions, and the standard skeptical arguments, external world propositions can be justified only indirectly by means of subjective states or propositions. Thus most foundationalists follow the traditional representationalist pattern -- albeit in sophisticated forms -- of attempting to argue their way to the external world. I argue that skepticism is wrong in principle and so can be set aside at the outset; and I argue that perceptual illusions and relativity are fully compatible with perceptual direct realism. This allows me to advance a nonrepresentationalist account of justification based upon direct realism. This also means that I explicitly link my theory of justification to a theory of perception, rather than attempting (as do virtually all current foundationalists) to give a theory of justification while trying not to make any commitments to a theory of perception.
Second, antifoundationalists have argued that foundationalism fails because the perceptual given is either theory-laden, inferentially constructed, or noncognitive. Antifoundationalists have argued further that contextual dimensions of justification are incompatible with hierarchical dimensions of justification. (Virtually all current foundationalists also accept the idea that contextuality and hierarchy are at odds with each other.) I argue against each of these claims, and present a developmental account of foundationalism that allows for revisions while preserving the necessary hierarchical justificatory relationships ultimately grounded in perceptual states. To accomplish this, I reject traditional foundationalism's insistence upon the incorrigibility of basic propositions. Then I argue that conceptual or logical revisions can force a reconstruction or modification of a justificatory hierarchy without severing that hierarchy's connection to perceptual states.
Thus, I defend a direct realist and developmental account of foundationalism.
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