Direct realism: Proximate causation and the missing object [Book Review]

Acta Analytica 20 (36):3-6 (2005)
Direct Realists believe that perception involves direct awareness of an object not dependent for its existence on the perceiver. Howard Robinson rejects this doctrine in favour of a Sense-Datum theory of perception. His argument against Direct Realism invokes the principle ‘same proximate cause, same immediate effect’. Since there are cases in which direct awareness has the same proximate cerebral cause as awareness of a sense datum, the Direct Realist is, he thinks, obliged to deny this causal principle. I suggest that although Direct Realism is in more than one respect implausible, it does not succumb to Robinson’s argument. The causal principle is true only if ‘proximate cause’ means ‘proximate sufficient cause’, and the Direct Realist need not concede that there is a sufficient cerebral cause for direct awareness of independent objects.
Keywords Causation  Direct Realism  Epistemology  Metaphysics  Perception  Realism
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DOI 10.1007/s12136-005-1025-z
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Howard M. Robinson (2003). The Ontology of the Mental. In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press

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