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Summary

The literature on perceptual knowledge—or, more broadly, the epistemology of perception—addresses a wide array of issues that often overlap.  Among the most prominent questions in the literature are the following: How should we account for perceptual knowledge and related notions such as perceptual evidence, justification, rationality, and entitlement?  Is any perceptual knowledge/justification immediate, or is all perceptual knowledge/justification mediated by other knowledge/justification?  Must perceptual experiences be understood as having conceptual content—or as having representational content at all—to justify perceptual beliefs?  How should the metaphysics of perception inform the epistemology of perception (or vice versa)?  How can we address skeptical threats to the status of our perceptual beliefs?  Do we have the same evidence for our perceptual beliefs in good and bad cases of perceptual experience?  More broadly, what is the relationship between the epistemic standing of our perceptual beliefs in good and bad cases?

Key works

Some central works about the nature of perceptual knowledge are Dretske(1969, 2000), Goldman (1976), McDowell (1994), Williamson (2000), Johnston (2006), and Sosa (2007).  Some central works about the nature of perceptual justification, entitlement and rationality are Pryor (2000), Huemer (2001), Burge (2003) and Wright (2004).  Important discussions of the relationship between perceptual content and the epistemology of perception include Sellars (1956), Martin (1993), Brewer (1999), Heck (2000), and Silins (2011).  Important discussions of the relationship between the metaphysics and epistemology of perception include Fumerton (1985), Martin (2006), McDowell (2008), and Sosa (2011).  Pryor (2000), Huemer (2001), and Wright (2002) rank among the most important recent discussions of perception and skepticism.  Pritchard (2012) and Schellenberg (2013) have developed accounts of the relationship between the epistemology of the good and the bad cases.

Introductions

Opie and O’Brien (2004), BonJour (2007), and Siegel and Silins (2015) provide overviews of the literature on the epistemology of perception. 

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  1. Steven E. Boër (1974). Cornman on Designation Rules. Philosophical Studies 26 (3-4):271 - 278.
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  2. Jack C. Carloye (1977). Cornman's Definition of Observation Terms. Philosophical Studies 32 (3):283 - 292.
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  3. Victoria Choy (1982). The Philosophy of James W. Cornman. Philosophical Studies 41 (1):7 - 29.
  4. Zoltan Domotor & Michael Friedman (1982). Cornman and Philosophy of Science. Philosophical Studies 41 (1):115 - 127.
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  5. M. Whitcomb Hess (1947). Language and Sense Perception. The Thomist 10:56.
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  6. Alan Hobbs (1975). New Phenomenalism as an Account of Perceptual Knowledge. Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 9:109-121.
    To be an Empiricist with respect to knowledge of the natural world, is to insist that all knowledge of that world is rooted in perceptual experience. All claims which go beyond the deliverances of the senses must, in the end, be justified by, and understood in terms of, relations holding between those claims and sensory data. Crucial to the Empiricist case, therefore, is an account of how perception can be a source of knowledge. How can sensory experiences provide, for the (...)
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  7. Emmett Lou Holman (1973). The Epistemic Status of Sense Perception. Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park
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  8. A. H. Johnson (1973). Experiential Realism. New York,Humanities Press.
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  9. L. K. (1978). James W. Cornman. Philosophical Studies 34 (4):333-334.
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  10. R. M. K. (1973). Perception, Reason, and Knowledge. Review of Metaphysics 27 (2):371-371.
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  11. David Kelley (1982). Perceptual Knowledge. International Philosophical Quarterly 22 (1):97-98.
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  12. J. Largeault (1989). Dancy . . - Perceptual knowledge. [REVIEW] Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 179:647.
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  13. N. O. Lossky (1957). Conditions of the Direct Perception of the External World. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 38 (1):37.
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  14. Carolyn Hope Magid (1974). Experience and the Foundations of Knowledge. Dissertation, Princeton University
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  15. Donald Mcqueen (1983). Perceptual Knowledge. Philosophical Books 24 (1):58-60.
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  16. Alan Millar (2009). What is It That Cognitive Abilities Are Abilities to Do? Acta Analytica 24 (4):223-236.
    This article outlines a conception of perceptual-recognitional abilities. These include abilities to recognize certain things from their appearance to some sensory modality, as being of some kind, or as possessing some property. An assumption of the article is that these abilities are crucial for an adequate understanding of perceptual knowledge. The specific aim here is to contrast those abilities with abilities or competences as conceived in the virtue-theoretic literature, with particular reference to views of Ernest Sosa and John Greco. In (...)
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  17. P. Murphy (2007). Richard Fumerton, Epistemology. Philosophy in Review 27 (2):113.
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  18. Stephen J. Noren (1975). Cornman on the Colour of Micro-Entities. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):65-67.
  19. M. Patricia (1938). Problem: The Validity of Sense Perception. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 14:121.
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  20. Paul Pojman (1994). Are Beliefs and Experiences Candidates for Elimination? Dialogue 37 (1):11-14.
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  21. Lowrence J. Rosan (1952). The External World and the Self. Review of Metaphysics 6:539.
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  22. Stephen Earl Rosenbaum (1974). Chisholm and the Justification of Perceptual Beliefs. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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  23. Gary S. Rosenkrantz (1984). Acquaintance. Philosophia 14 (August):1-24.
  24. J. W. Roxbee-cox (1983). DICKER, G. "Perceptual Knowledge". [REVIEW] Mind 92:279.
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  25. Bede Rundle (1989). Richard A. Fumerton., Metaphysical and Epistemological Problems of Perception. International Studies in Philosophy 21 (1):82-83.
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  26. R. M. Sainsbury (1986). Russell on Acquaintance. Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 20:219-244.
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  27. Peter Sandø (1988). Moral Knowledge Assessment of a Perceptual Paradigm.
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  28. Richard H. Schlagel (1962). Language and Perception. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 23 (December):192-204.
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  29. New Directions In Semantics (1987). Anil Gupta. In Ernest Lepore (ed.), New Directions in Semantics. Academic Press 453.
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  30. Eugene Shen (1927). Explicit Primitives for Psychology. Philosophical Review 36 (3):253-257.
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  31. Marshall Swain (1982). Cornman's Theory of Justification. Philosophical Studies 41 (1):129 - 148.
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  32. William Taylor (1952). The Relationship Between Psychology and Science. London, Allen & Unwin.
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Dogmatism about Perception
  1. David James Barnett (forthcoming). Perceptual Justification and the Cartesian Theater. Oxford Studies in Epistemology.
    According to a traditional Cartesian epistemology of perception, perception does not provide one with direct knowledge of the external world. Instead, when you look out to see a red wall, what you learn first is not a fact about the color of the wall—i.e., that it is red—but instead a fact about your own visual experience—i.e., that the wall looks red to you. If you are to justifiably believe that the wall is red, you must be in a position to (...)
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  2. Berit Brogaard (2014). Intuitions as Intellectual Seemings. Analytic Philosophy 55 (4):382-393.
    In Philosophy Without Intuitions Herman Cappelen argues that unlike what is commonly thought, contemporary analytic philosophers do not typically rely on intuitions as evidence. If they do indeed rely on intuitions, that should be evident from their written works, either explicitly in the form of ‘intuition’ talk or by means of other indicators. However, Cappelen argues, while philosophers do engage in ‘intuition’ talk, that is not a good indicator that they rely on intuitions, as ‘intuition’ and its cognates have many (...)
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  3. Berit Brogaard (2013). Phenomenal Seemings and Sensible Dogmatism. In Chris Tucker (ed.), Seemings and Justification. OUP Usa 270.
  4. Elijah Chudnoff (2011). The Nature of Intuitive Justification. Philosophical Studies 153 (2):313 - 333.
    In this paper I articulate and defend a view that I call phenomenal dogmatism about intuitive justification. It is dogmatic because it includes the thesis: if it intuitively seems to you that p, then you thereby have some prima facie justification for believing that p. It is phenomenalist because it includes the thesis: intuitions justify us in believing their contents in virtue of their phenomenology—and in particular their presentational phenomenology. I explore the nature of presentational phenomenology as it occurs perception, (...)
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  5. Elijah Chudnoff & David Didomenico (2015). The Epistemic Unity of Perception. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (4):535-549.
    Dogmatists and phenomenal conservatives think that if it perceptually seems to you that p, then you thereby have some prima facie justification for believing that p. Increasingly, writers about these views have argued that perceptual seemings are composed of two other states: a sensation followed by a seeming. In this article we critically examine this movement. First we argue that there are no compelling reasons to think of perceptual seemings as so composed. Second we argue that even if they were (...)
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  6. Logan Paul Gage (2016). Phenomenal Conservatism and the Subject’s Perspective Objection. Acta Analytica 31 (1):43-58.
    For some years now, Michael Bergmann has urged a dilemma against internalist theories of epistemic justification. For reasons I explain below, some epistemologists have thought that Michael Huemer’s principle of Phenomenal Conservatism can split the horns of Bergmann’s dilemma. Bergmann has recently argued, however, that PC must inevitably, like all other internalist views, fall prey to his dilemma. In this paper, I explain the nature of Bergmann’s dilemma and his reasons for thinking that PC cannot escape it before arguing that (...)
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  7. Harmen Ghijsen (forthcoming). The Real Epistemic Problem of Cognitive Penetration. Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    The phenomenon of cognitive penetration has received a lot of attention in recent epistemology, as it seems to make perceptual justification too easy to come by for experientialist theories of justification. Some have tried to respond to this challenge by arguing that cognitive penetration downgrades the epistemic status of perceptual experience, thereby diminishing its justificatory power. I discuss two examples of this strategy, and argue that they fail on several grounds. Most importantly, they fail to realize that cognitive penetration is (...)
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  8. Harmen Ghijsen (2015). Grounding Perceptual Dogmatism: What Are Perceptual Seemings? Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (2):196-215.
    Perceptual Dogmatism holds that if it perceptually seems to S that p, then S has immediate prima facie justification for the belief that p. Various philosophers have made the notion of a perceptual seeming more precise by distinguishing perceptual seemings from both sensations and beliefs to accommodate a) the epistemic difference between perceptual judgments of novices and experts, and, b) the problem of the speckled hen. Using somewhat different terminology, perceptual seemings are supposed to be high-level percepts instead of low-level (...)
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  9. Harmen Ghijsen (2014). Phenomenalist Dogmatist Experientialism and the Distinctiveness Problem. Synthese 191 (7):1549-1566.
    Phenomenalist dogmatist experientialism (PDE) holds the following thesis: if $S$ has a perceptual experience that $p$ , then $S$ has immediate prima facie evidential justification for the belief that $p$ in virtue of the experience’s phenomenology. The benefits of PDE are that it (a) provides an undemanding view of perceptual justification that allows most of our ordinary perceptual beliefs to be justified, and (b) accommodates two important internalist intuitions, viz. the New Evil Demon Intuition and the Blindsight Intuition. However, in (...)
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  10. Paweł Grabarczyk (2013). Do Animals See Objects? In Marcin Miłkowski Konrad Talmont-Kamiński (ed.), Regarding Mind, Naturally.
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  11. Kenneth Hobson (2008). Foundational Beliefs and the Structure of Justification. Synthese 164 (1):117 - 139.
    I argue that our justification for beliefs about the external physical world need not be constituted by any justified beliefs about perceptual experiences. In this way our justification for beliefs about the physical world may be nondoxastic and this differentiates my proposal from traditional foundationalist theories such as those defended by Laurence BonJour, Richard Fumerton, and Timothy McGrew. On the other hand, it differs from certain non-traditional foundationalist theories such as that defended by James Pryor according to which perceptual experience (...)
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  12. Michael Huemer (2001). Skepticism and the Veil of Perception. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
    This book develops and defends a version of direct realism: the thesis that perception gives us direct awareness, and non-inferential knowledge, of the external..
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  13. Magdalena Balcerak Jackson (forthcoming). Perceptual Fundamentalism and a Priori Bootstrapping. Philosophical Studies.
    According to Perceptual Fundamentalism we can have justified perceptual beliefs solely in virtue of having perceptual experiences with corresponding contents. Recently, it has been argued that Perceptual Fundamentalism entails that it is possible to gain an a priori justified belief that perception is reliable by engaging in a suppositional reasoning process of a priori bootstrapping. But I will show that Perceptual Fundamentalists are not committed to a priori bootstrapping being a rational reasoning process. On the most plausible versions of Perceptual (...)
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  14. Clayton Littlejohn (forthcoming). Skeptical Thoughts Concerning Explanationism and Skepticism. Symposion.
    According to the explanationist, we can rely on inference to best explanation to justifiably believe familiar skeptical hypotheses are false. On this view, commonsense beliefs about the existence and character of familiar, medium-sized dry goods provides the best explanation of our evidence and so justifies our belief that we're not brains-in-vats. This explanationist approach seems prima facie plausible until we press the explanationist to tell us what the data is that we're trying to explain by appeal to our beliefs about (...)
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  15. Jack Lyons (2015). Critical Notice: Seemings and Justification, Ed. Chris Tucker. [REVIEW] Analysis 75 (1):153-164.
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  16. Jack Lyons (2011). Circularity, Reliability, and the Cognitive Penetrability of Perception. Philosophical Issues 21 (1):289-311.
    Is perception cognitively penetrable, and what are the epistemological consequences if it is? I address the latter of these two questions, partly by reference to recent work by Athanassios Raftopoulos and Susanna Seigel. Against the usual, circularity, readings of cognitive penetrability, I argue that cognitive penetration can be epistemically virtuous, when---and only when---it increases the reliability of perception.
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  17. Jack Lyons (2010). Precis of Perception and Basic Beliefs. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 153 (3):443 - 446.
  18. Jack Lyons (2010). Response to Critics. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 153 (3):477 - 488.
    Part of book symposium on _Perception and Basic Beliefs_. Responses to Terry Horgan, Alvin Goldman, and Peter Graham.
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