Philosphical ‘Intuitions’ and Scepticism about Judgement



1. What are called ‘intuitions’ in philosophy are just applications of our ordinary capacities for judgement. We think of them as intuitions when a special kind of scepticism about those capacities is salient. 2. Like scepticism about perception, scepticism about judgement pressures us into conceiving our evidence as facts about our internal psychological states: here, facts about our conscious inclinations to make judgement s about some topic rather than facts about the topic itself. But the pressure should be resisted, for it rests on bad epistemology: specifically, on an impossible ideal of unproblematically identifiable evidence. 3. Our resistance to scepticism about judgement is not simply epistemic conservativism, for we resist it on behalf of others as well as ourselves. A reason is needed for thinking that beliefs tend to be true. 4. Evolutionary explanations of the tendency assume what they should explain. Explanations that appeal to constraints on the determination of reference are more promising. Davidson's truth-maximizing principle of charity is examined but rejected. 5. An alternative principle is defended on which the nature of reference is to maximize knowledge rather than truth. It is related to an externalist conception of mind on which knowing is the central mental state. 6. The knowledge-maximizing principle of charity explains why scenarios for scepticism about judgement do not warrant such scepticism, although it does not explain how we know in any particular case. We should face the face that evidence is always liable to be contested in philosophy, and stop using talk of intuition to disguise this unpleasant truth from ourselves.