Perceptual systems and realism

Synthese 164 (1):61 - 91 (2008)
 Constructivism undermines realism by arguing that experience is mediated by concepts, and that there is no direct way to examine those aspects of objects that belong to them independently of our conceptualizations; perception is theory-laden. To defend realism one has to show first that perception relates us directly with the world without any intermediary conceptual framework. The result of this direct link is the nonconceptual content of experience. Second, one has to show that part of the nonconceptual content extracted from the environment correctly represents features of mind independent objects. With regard to the first condition, I have argued elsewhere that a part of visual processing, which I call “perception,” is theory-neutral and nonconceptual. In this paper, facing the second demand, I argue that a part of the nonconceptual content of perception presents properties that are the properties of mind independent objects. I claim first that nonconceptual content is the appropriate level of analysis of the issue of realism since it avoids the main problems besetting various types of analysis of the issue at the level of beliefs about the world. Then I claim that a subset of the nonconceptual content presents features of objects in the environment as they really are
Keywords Realism  Perception  Success  Semantics  Constructivism
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-007-9216-3
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References found in this work BETA
John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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Bence Nanay (2013). Success Semantics: The Sequel. Philosophical Studies 165 (1):151-165.

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