Reported Phenomena, Unexplainable Phenomena

An Epistemology of UAP


  • Jeremy Butman St. John's University


UAP, belief, causality, epistemology, spacetime


This paper analyzes the U.S. Navy’s report that an unidentified aerial phenomenon was observed by pilots dispatched from the Nimitz aircraft carrier in 2004, a report published by the New York Times in 2017. I argue that an unidentified phenomenon is an unexplainable phenomenon, meaning a one with unknown causality. In this case, unknown causality involves the apparent negation of gravity. Exploring how a phenomenon might appear within spacetime yet simultaneously appear independent of the causality of spacetime, I review the concept of causation as it is developed by Descartes and Kant, highlighting their contemplation of beings that might exist outside spatiotemporal causation. Using concepts from quantum mechanics and information theory, I explore various ways such a being might be compatible with mathematics and logic. Finally, I consider what conclusions might be drawn if one embraces the phenomenon simply as an appearance of the unexplainable. I observe that any understanding of the phenomenon is possible only on the condition one elects to entertain a report of it. This opens avenues for analysis of reportative speech and belief. Finally, I consider the implications of a determinate experience of a being with no apparent causality for historiography and theology.


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How to Cite

Butman, J. (2022). Reported Phenomena, Unexplainable Phenomena: An Epistemology of UAP. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 18(2), 380–412. Retrieved from