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Skepticism and the Liberal/Conservative Conceptions of Perceptual Justification

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Although it is widely recognized that perceptual experience confers justification on the beliefs it gives rise to, it is unclear how its epistemic value should be properly characterized. Liberals hold, and conservatives deny, that the justification conditions of perceptual beliefs merely involve experiences with the same content. The recent debate on this question has, however, seen further fragmentations of the positions involved with the disputants seeking to identify intermediate positions between liberalism and conservatism. In this paper, I suggest a framework to account for the differences and similarities of the positions within the liberalism/conservatism debate. More importantly, I suggest that, instead of focusing on one particular species of conservatism, we should recognize varieties of conservatism. My conclusion is that no theory of justification need be conservative or liberal tout court. Whether a theory of justification is liberal or conservative depends on which dimension of evaluation is taken to be salient. The implications of this finding for the liberalism/conservatism debate are then investigated.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (Tehran),


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