Michael Pace

I am Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Chapman University. I work mainly on topics in epistemology and philosophy of mind, especially the metaphysics and epistemology of sense perception. This site contains some of my current publications and works in progress.


Refereed Articles

Foundationally Justified Perceptual Beliefs and the Problem of the Speckled Hen Published Version (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (3):401-441.
According to a widely-held theory that I will call modest foundationalism, at least some beliefs about the external world enjoy foundational justification, i.e. justification that does not derive from other beliefs. I argue that modest foundationalism as it has been formulated in the literature faces a challenge that it inherits from classical foundationalism: the problem of the speckled hen. I explain the challenge and propose a solution. Accepted Version

The Epistemic Value of Moral Considerations: Justification, Moral Encroachment, and James’ ‘The Will To Believe’ (Noûs, forthcoming) Early View Published Version Accepted Version.

A moral-pragmatic argument for a proposition is an argument intended to establish that believing the proposition would be morally beneficial. Since such arguments do not adduce epistemic reasons, i.e., reasons that support the truth of a proposition, they can seem at best to be irrelevant epistemically. At worst, believing on the basis of such reasoning can seem to involve wishful thinking and intellectual dishonesty of a sort that that precludes such beliefs from being epistemically unjustified. Inspired by an argument from William James’ classic, “The Will to Believe”, I argue that there is a way of making sense of moral-pragmatic arguments such that they are epistemically relevant. I develop and argue for a theory of epistemic justification that I dub the “moral encroachment theory” (emphasizing its connection to recent pragmatic encroachment views). According to the theory, moral considerations can raise or lower epistemic standards from where they would be in morally neutral settings. The moral encroachment theory, I contend, denotes a normative property that is at once distinctively epistemic and valuable. The theory also allows a legitimate role for moral-pragmatic reasoning under certain conditions. The upshot is that moral-pragmatic reasoning can be epistemically as well as morally appropriate.

Perceptual Knowledge and the Metaphysics of Experience (Philosophical Quarterly 58, 2008, pgs 642-664) Published version at Wiley InterScience (subscription required). Accepted version.

There is a long-standing tradition in philosophy that certain metaphysical theories of perceptual experience, if true, would lead to scepticism about the external world, whereas other theories, if true, would develop a non-sceptical epistemology. I investigate these claims in the context of current metaphysical theories of sense-perception and argue that choice of perceptual ontology is of very limited help in developing a non-sceptical epistemology. Theorists who hold that perception is an intentional state have some advantage in explaining how perceptual experiences serve as justifying reasons for empirical beliefs. Alston and others have argued that a successful defence of a contemporary version of naïve realism would secure further epistemological advantages. I argue that this is not the case. A complete explanation of experience's reason-giving power involves factors beyond the metaphysical nature of experience. 

Blurred Vision and the Transparency of Experience (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 88, No. 3. (September 2007), pp. 328-354.) Published version at Wiley InterScience (subscription required). Accepted version

This paper considers an objection to intentionalism (the view that the phenomenal character of experience supervenes on intentional content) based on the phenomenology of blurred vision. Several intentionalists, including Michael Tye, Fred Dretske, and Timothy Crane, have proposed intentionalist explanations of blurred vision phenomenology. I argue that their proposals fail and propose a solution of my own that, I contend, is the only promising explanation consistent with intentionalism. The solution, however, comes at a cost for intentionalists; it involves rejecting the “transparency of experience”, a doctrine that has been the basis for the central argument in favor of intentionalism.

Reviews/Encyclopedia Articles

Perception, Contemporary Views in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition. Ed. Donald Borchert (McMillan Publishing), 2005. 5,763 words.


Review of Alva Noë’s Action in Perception, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (November 13, 2005) Link

Works in Progress

(This is a draft of my contribution to Virtuous Thoughts: Essays on the Philosophy of Ernest Sosa, ed. John Turri (Springer Press). Comments are welcome. The final draft is due Sept. 1, 2011)
In its original context, the “problem of the speckled hen” was a challenge to classical foundationalists who held that introspective beliefs about experience enjoy infallible foundational justification. Ernest Sosa has led a revival of interest in the problem, using it to object to neo­-classical foundationalists and to motivate his own reliabilist theory of introspective justification. His discussion has spawned replies from those who claim that there are viable non-reliabilist solutions to the problem. I argue that these alternative proposals in the literature are unsuccessful. I end, though, with an objection to Sosa’s theory. Along the way I also consider what the speckled hen and related examples have to teach about the fineness of grain of experience.

The Place of Faith in Mind and Epistemology

In this paper I present a theory of what faith is and when it is justified. Faith, I contend, occupies a more important place in psychology than is commonly thought. Faith differs importantly from other propositional attitudes such as belief and hope, and nonreligious as well as religious examples of faith are quite common. One way that faith differs from belief is that it includes an evaluative, pro-attitude toward a proposition. The evaluative aspect of faith, I argue later, can affect the amount of evidence that is required for faith to be justified. I begin defending this idea by considering in a general way what it is for a propositional attitude to be justified, focusing on belief, hope, and fear as my main examples. Faith is like belief in that the concept of justification most appropriate for evaluating whether faith is justified is epistemic. This suggests a prima facie worry that faith can never be justified, since according the account I defend faith looks dangerously similar to wishful thinking, a paradigmatic example of an epistemically unjustified process. I respond to this worry and set forth conditions under which faith is justified.
Michael Pace,
Nov 24, 2008, 8:55 PM
Michael Pace,
Dec 4, 2008, 4:13 PM
Michael Pace,
Jun 13, 2011, 9:33 PM