A Unsent and Perpetually Unfinished Email to Professor BonJour

Hence the question at issue, whether anyone knows an incorrigible truth as such, can be directly answered affirmatively only by someone who actually knows an incorrigible truth as such; to demand a demonstration of this is already to have rejected the claim. Of course the sceptic claims this is unconvincing; the proponent of CF [classical foundationalism] has failed to give him — the sceptic — a good reason for thinking that anyone knows an incorrigible truth as such. But it should be asked if that amounts to anything more than an admission by the sceptic that he doesn’t know any incorrigible truths as such. Is that an argument against CF? Is the proponent of CF somehow required to get the sceptic to grasp an incorrigible truth in order to make good his claim to know such a truth? Surely one does not want to say that the sceptic’s failure to know an incorrigible truth as such undercuts the cognitive certainly of someone who does know an incorrigible truth as such. … But CF, as I have elaborated it here, is not self-refuting; all that is left for the sceptic is to complain that he doesn’t known any incorrigible truth as such/ That may be true, but it is no reason for someone who does know an incorrigible truth as such to suppose that he doesn’t. (Foundationalism Defended, pp. 59–60)

Now we can see why the supposed analogy between vision and “mental insight” or intuition breaks down. When a man claims a private title for his perceptual report, there is a logical gap between a certain perceptual fact and another fact consisting of his saying that he has the perception in question: he could see the red patch without saying that he saw it. And unless there was such a gap, there would be no sense in his claiming to have a title or ground for his assertion. The implied existence of a distinct truth-ground is essential to the whole conception. But precisely this feature of vision proper is intended to be absent in the case of “metnal vision.” Since the truth-ground of a self-evident proposition is intended to be included in that very proposition, understanding and verifying here collapse into one and the same thing, and it no longer makes sense to speak of having even a private justification of title. (Black, Margins of Precision, pp. 18–19).



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store