Defeaters and nonpropositional evidence

I think some lay followers of the Law debate think that it was an inappropriate move to appeal to non-propositional evidence in order to respond and overcome an undercutting defeater. Epistemologists do this all the time. In fact, this is exactly the move that Bergmann thinks is available to the naturalist as a response to Plantinga’s EAAN.

Bergmann states,

Even if a naturalist believed that P(R/N&E) is low or inscrutable, this needn’t give her a defeater for R. For she could have nonpropositional evidence for R that is sufficiently strong to make belief in R rational, reasonable, and warranted – even for someone whose total relevant propositional evidence, k, was such that P(R/k) is low or inscrutable.[1]

Now, granted, as a proper functionalist, I think that the cases of the widget and snake hallucination are cases that fail to meet Plantinga’s epistemic environment condition. As mentioned in the debate, I think intuitively, we think that one cannot have knowledge in such scenarios as we don’t think that under such conditions our faculties are designed to form such beliefs.

At the end of the day, if the non-propositional evidence leads us to firmly believe p, and p is the product of proper function conditions, then I think we would be warranted in believing that p. This is true, even in light of an attempted undercutting defeater as Bergmann points out.


[1] Bergmann, ‘Common Sense Naturalism,’ in Naturalism Defeated? Essays on Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, op. cit., 68.



1 Comment

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One response to “Defeaters and nonpropositional evidence

  1. I’m curious what non-propositional evidence of R would look like. I’ll check out Bergmann’s paper.

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