Inspired by the writings of J. M. Hinton (1967a, 1967b, 1973), but ushered into the mainstream by Paul Snowdon (1980–1, 1990–1), John McDowell (1982, 1986), and M. G. F. Martin (2002, 2004, 2006), disjunctivism is currently discussed, advocated, and opposed in the philosophy of perception, the theory of knowledge, the theory of practical reason, and the philosophy of action. But what is disjunctivism?
This essay is a long one. It is not meant to be read in a single sitting. Its structure is as follows. In section I, I explicate perceptual anti-individualism. Section II centers on the two aspects of the representational content of perceptual states. Sections III and IV concern the nature of the empirical psychology of vision, and its bearing on the individuation of perceptual states. Section V shows how what is known from empirical psychology undermines disjunctivism and hence certain (...) further views that entail it, including naive realism. In Section VI, I raise a further point against disjunctivism. Section VII indicates how general reflection on perceptual perspective and epistemic ability supports the constraints from empirical psychology. It also explains how reflection on veridicality conditions, psychological explanation, and cognitive ability conspire to force recognition of the two kinds of representation mentioned in the preceding paragraph. In the Appendix, I criticize attempts to support disjunctivism. (shrink)
Many philosophers are skeptical about disjunctivism—a theory of perceptual experience which holds roughly that a situation in which I see a banana that is as it appears to me to be (the good case) and one in which I have a hallucination as of a banana (a certain kind of bad case) are mentally completely different. Often this skepticism is rooted in the suspicion that such a view cannot adequately account for the bad case—in particular, (i) that such a (...) view cannot explain why what it’s like to have a hallucination can be exactly like what it’s like to have a veridical experience, (ii) that it cannot explain why the hallucination I have in the bad case is subjectively indistinguishable from the kind of experience I have in the good case, and (iii) that it cannot offer a viable account of the nature of hallucination. -/- In this paper, I argue that a proper formulation of disjunctivism can avoid these objections. Disjunctivism should be formulated as the weakest claim required to preserve its primary motivation, viz., Naïve Realism—the view that veridical experience fundamentally consists in the subject perceiving entities in her environment. And the weakest claim required to preserve Naïve Realism allows for many sorts of commonalities across the good and hallucinatory cases, commonalities that can be marshaled in responding to the objections. Most importantly, disjunctivism properly formulated is compatible with “positive” accounts of the nature of hallucination (as against M.G.F. Martin’s widely accepted argument to the contrary). (shrink)
John McDowell’s original motivation of disjunctivism occurs in the context of a problem regarding other minds. Recent commentators have insisted that McDowell’s disjunctivism should be classed as an epistemological disjunctivism about epistemic warrant, and distinguished from the perceptual disjunctivism of Hinton, Snowdon and others. In this paper I investigate the relation between the problem of other minds and disjunctivism, and raise some questions for this interpretation of McDowell.
Disjunctivism about sensory experience is frequently put forward in defence of a particular conception of perception and perceptual experience known as naïve realism. In this paper I present an argument against naïve realism that proceeds through a rejection of disjunctivism. If the naïve realist must also be a disjunctivist about the phenomenal nature of experience, then naïve realism should be abandoned.
In common with traditional forms of epistemic internalism, epistemological disjunctivism attempts to incorporate an awareness condition on justification. Unlike traditional forms of internalism, however, epistemological disjunctivism rejects the so-called New Evil Genius thesis. In so far as epistemological disjunctivism rejects the New Evil Genius thesis, it is revisionary. -/- After explaining what epistemological disjunctivism is, and how it relates to traditional forms of epistemic internalism / externalism, I shall argue that the epistemological disjunctivist’s account of the (...) intuitions underlying the New Evil Genius thought experiment is at best incomplete. As presented, therefore, epistemological disjunctivism is unable to accommodate the core guiding intuitions of epistemic internalism. Given the stated aim of not being revisionary on this score, the view is at a dialectical disadvantage over the traditional forms of epistemic internalism the position is meant to replace. Unfortunately, therefore, at present, the impasse between internalism and externalism remains. (shrink)
On the face of it, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s views (as found in Phenomenology of Perception) resemble contemporary disjunctivist theories of perception, especially if we take John McDowell’s epistemological disjunctivism as an example. Like McDowell (and other disjunctivists), Merleau-Ponty seems to be a direct realist about perception, and holds that veridical and illusory perceptions are distinct from each other. This paper furthers this comparison. Furthermore, It is argued that there are certain key elements that show up in Merleau-Ponty’s thought that can (...) make a stronger case for the kind of epistemological view that McDowell wants to support through his disjunctivism. (shrink)
Disjunctivism is the view that perceptual experience is either constituted by fact in the world or mere appearance. This view is said to be able to guarantee our cognitive contact with the world, and thus remove a crucial “prop” upon which skepticism depends. This paper has two aims. First, it aims to show that disjunctivism is a solution to Cartesian skepticism. Cartesian skepticism is an epistemological thesis, not an ontological one. Therefore, if there is an external world, we (...) may well undergo a veridical experience, and thus we can take advantage of disjunctivism to adopt an anti-evidential-skepticism strategy to counter Cartesian skepticism. Second, this paper argues that disjunctivism fails to solve Pyrrhonian skepticism. To counter Pyrrhonian skepticism, one has to give reasons both for his belief and for his believing. But disjunctivism can only account the former, that is, the reason for the content of perceptual belief. Given that one’s experience in good case and bad case is subjectively indistinguishable, one cannot just use his experience to justify his believing. This shows that disjunctivism cannot meet the requirement to provide an adequate account for reflective knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper, I will ask whether naïve realists have the conceptual resources for meeting the challenge stemming from the causal argument. As I interpret it, naïve realism is committed to disjunctivism. Therefore, I first set out in detail how one has to formulate the causal argument against the background of disjunctivism. This discussion is above all supposed to work out the key assumptions at stake in the causal argument. I will then go on to sketch out several (...) possible rejoinders on behalf of naïve realism. It will be shown that they all fail to provide a satisfying account of how causation and perceptual consciousness fit together. Accordingly, the upshot will be that the causal argument provides good reason to abandon disjunctivism and, instead, to promote a common factor view of perception. (shrink)
Many naive realists endorse a negative disjunctivist strategy in order to deal with the challenge presented by the possibility of phenomenologically indistinguishable halucination. In the first part of this paper I argue that this approach is methodologically inconsistent because it undercuts the phenomenological motivation that underlies the the appeal of naive realism. In the second part of the paper I develop an alternative to the negative disjunctivist account along broadly Meinongian lines. In the last section of this paper I consider (...) and evaluate a somewhat similar but rival view of hallucination developed by Mark Johnston. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences have been construed either as representational mental states—Representationalism—or as direct mental relations to the external world—Disjunctivism. Both conceptions are critical reactions to the so-called ‘Argument from Hallucination’, according to which perceptions cannot be about the external world, since they are subjectively indiscriminable from other, hallucinatory experiences, which are about sense-data ormind-dependent entities. Representationalism agrees that perceptions and hallucinations share their most specific mental kind, but accounts for hallucinations as misrepresentations of the external world. According to Disjunctivism, (...) the phenomenal character of perceptions is exhausted by worldly objects and features, and thus must be different from the phenomenal character of hallucinations. Disjunctivism claims that subjective indiscriminability is not the result of a common experiential ground, but is because of our inability to discriminate, from the inside, hallucinations from perceptions. At first sight, Representationalism is more congenial to the way cognitive science deals with perception. However, empirically oriented revisions of Disjunctivism could be developed and tested by giving a metacognitive account of hallucinations. Two versions of this account can be formulated, depending on whether metacognition is understood as explicit metarepresentation or as implicit monitoring of first-order informational states. The first version faces serious objections, but the second is more promising, as it embodies a more realistic view of perceptual phenomenology as having both sensory and affective aspects. Affectbased phenomenology is constituted by various metacognitive feelings, such as the feeling of being perceptually confronted with the world itself, rather than with pictures or mere representations. (shrink)
There is a traditional conception of sensory experience on which the experiences one has looking at, say, a cat could be had by someone merely hallucinating a cat. Disjunctivists take issue with this conception on the grounds that it does not enable us to understand how perceptual knowledge is possible. In particular, they think, it does not explain how it can be that experiences gained in perception enable us to be in ‘cognitive contact’ with objects and facts. I develop this (...) chal- lenge to the traditional conception and then show that it is possible to accommo- date an adequate account of cognitive contact in keeping with the traditional conception. One upshot of the discussion is that experiences do not bear the explanatory burden placed upon them by disjunctivists. (shrink)
In the eyes of some of its critics, disjunctivism fails to support adequately the key claim that a particular hallucination might be indistinguishable from a certain kind of veridical perception despite the two states having nothing other than this in common. Scott Sturgeon, for example, has complained that disjunctivism ‘‘offers no positive story about hallucination at all’’ (2000: 11) and therefore ‘‘simply takes [indistinguishability] for granted’’ (2000: 12). So according to Sturgeon, what the disjunctivist needs to provide is (...) a plausible explanation of just how two mental states which have no common component might be indistinguishable for their subject and this in turn will require the telling of a positive story about hallucination. This is the goal of the present essay. (shrink)
Disjunctivism is the focus of a lively debate spanning the philosophy of perception, epistemology, and the philosophy of action. Adrian Haddock and Fiona Macpherson present 17 specially written essays, which examine the different forms of disjunctivism and explore the connections between them.
In Burge 2005, Tyler Burge reads disjunctivism as the denial that there are explanatorily relevant states in common between veridical perceptions and corresponding illusions. He rejects the position as plainly inconsistent with what is known about perception. I describe a disjunctive approach to perceptual experience that is immune to Burge's attack. The main positive moral concerns how to think about fallibility.
[John Hawthorne] We examine some well-known disjunctivist projects in the philosophy of perception, mainly in a critical vein. Our discussion is divided into four parts. Following some introductory remarks, we examine in part two the link between object-dependent contents and disjunctivism. In part three, we explore the disjunctivist's use of discriminability facts as a basis for understanding experience. In part four, we examine an interesting argument for disjunctivism that has been offered by Michael Martin. /// [Scott Sturgeon] The (...) paper aims to do five things: sketch the backbone of disjunctivism about visual experience, explore the view of our title, defend a version of that view from two objections, press two more objections of my own, and sketch a more radical variety of disjunctivism which avoids much of the bother. (shrink)
Naive realism is one of the oldest theories of perception. To a first approximation, naive realism is the view that perception is a direct relation between a subject and an object. Many historical philosophers (from Locke to Russell) argued that naive realism must be rejected on the grounds that hallucinations are perceptual experiences without an object. Contemporary philosophers have resurrected the theory by insisting that genuine cases of perception have a different structure or a different metaphysical status than non-genuine ones. (...) This version of naive realism has come to be known as ‘disjunctivism’. Epistemological disjunctivism and disjunctivism about phenomenal belief, or what I shall call ‘Epistemological disjunctivism’, have also gained popularity in recent years. More recently disjunctivist accounts of bodily movements, abilities and reasons for action have entered the philosophical scene. This entry focuses on the contemporary debate about disjunctivism: its characterization, its motivation and its potential shortcomings. (shrink)
Fish proposes that we need to elucidate what 'disjunctivism' stands for, and he also proposes that it stands for the rejection of a principle about the nature of experience that he calls the decisiveness principle. The present paper argues that his first proposal is reasonable, but then argues, in Section II, that his positive suggestion does not draw the line between disjunctivism and non-disjunctivism in the right place. In Section III, it is argued that disjunctivism is (...) a thesis about the special nature of perceptual experience, and the thesis as elucidated here is then distinguished from and related to certain other ideas about perception, namely, direct realism and also McDowell's epistemological disjunctivism. (shrink)
I argue that McDowell-style disjunctivism, as the position is often cashed out, goes wrong because it takes the good epistemic standing of veridical perception to be grounded in “manifest” facts which do not necessarily satisfy any epistemic constraints. A better form of disjunctivism explains the difference between good and bad cases in terms of epistemic constraints that the states satisfy. This view allows us to preserve McDowell’s thesis that good cases make facts manifest, as long as manifest facts (...) must satisfy epistemic constraints. (shrink)
During the 'What is Realism?' symposium at the 2001 Joint Session, Professor Ayers raised a number of objections to the disjunctive theory of perception. However in his reply, Professor Snowdon protested that Ayers had failed to adequately engage with the disjunctivist's position. This apparent lack of engagement suggests that the terms of this debate are not as clear as they might be. In the light of this, the current paper offers a way in which we might shed light on the (...) underlying nature of the dispute between disjunctivists and non-disjunctivists, and following this, goes on to recommend ways in which the debate might then be taken forward. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that McDowell’s brand of disjunctivism about perceptual knowledge is ill-motivated. First, I present a reconstruction of one main motivation for disjunctivism, in the form of an argument that theories that posit a “highest common factor” between veridical and non-veridical experiences must be wrong. Then I show that the argument owes its plausibility to a failure to distinguish between justification and warrant (where “warrant” is understood as whatever has to be added to true belief (...) to yield knowledge). (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the so-called disjunctive views on hallucinations. I argue that neither of the options open to the disjunctivist is capable of accommodating basic phenomenological facts about hallucinatory experiences and the explanatory demands behind the classical argument from hallucination. A positive characterization of the hallucinatory case is not attractive to a disjunctivist once she is disposed to accept certain commonalities with veridical experiences. Negative disjunctivism glosses the hallucinatory disjunct in terms of indiscriminability. I will argue that (...) this move either renounces to characterize phenomenally the hallucinatory experience or does not take seriously questions about why indiscriminability is possible in the phenomenal realm. (shrink)
A theory is disjunctive insofar as it distinguishes genuine from non-genuine cases of some phenomenon P on the grounds that no salient feature of cases of one type is common to cases of the other type. Genuine and non-genuine cases of P are, in this sense, fundamentally different. Those who advocate disjunctivist theories have (for the most part) been concerned with perception and perceptual knowledge. This entry outlines two such theories: the disjunctivist theory of experience (cf. Brewer, Hinton, Martin, Snowdon, (...) Travis) and the disjunctivist theory of appearances (McDowell). (shrink)
The paper explains what disjunctivism is and explores its implications for skepticism. Following an account of Paul Snowdon’s conception of a disjunctivist account of perceptual experience the the focus is on how disjunctivism has figured in the epistemological work of John McDowell. A conception of recognitional abilities is deployed to expand on McDowell’s position. Finally, there is consideration of whether McDowell offers a satisfactory response to skepticism, taking account of criticism’s made by Crispin Wright.
We know things that entail things we apparently cannot come to know. This is a problem for those of us who trust that knowledge is closed under entailment. In the paper I discuss the solutions to this problem offered by epistemic disjunctivism and contextualism. The contention is that neither of these theories has the resources to deal satisfactory with the problem.
Disjunctivism, as a theory of visual experience, claims that the mental states involved in a “good case” experience of veridical perception and a “bad case” experience of hallucination differ, even in those cases in which the two experiences are indistinguishable for their subject. Consider the veridical perception of a bar stool and an indistinguishable hallucination; both of these experiences might be classed together as experiences (as) of a bar stool or experiences of seeming to see a bar stool. This (...) might lead us to think that the experiences we undergo in the two cases must be of the same kind, the difference being that the former, but not the latter, is connected to the world in the right kind of way. Such a conjecture has been called a “highest common factor” or “common kind” assumption. At heart, disjunctivism consists in the rejection of this assumption. According the disjunctivist, veridical experiences and hallucinations do not share a common component. There are a host of interesting questions surrounding disjunctivism including: What is involved in the claims that good case and bad case experiences differ? Why might one might want to be a disjunctivist? What kinds of claims can the disjunctivist make about hallucination and illusion? These questions, and problems for the thesis, will be discussed as we proceed. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of various forms of alethic pluralism. Along the way we will draw a number of distinctions that, hopefully, will be useful in mapping the pluralist landscape. Finally, we will argue that a commitment to alethic disjunctivism, a certain brand of pluralism, might be difficult to avoid for adherents of the other pluralist views to be discussed. We will proceed as follows: Section 1 introduces alethic monism and alethic pluralism. Section (...) 2 presents a distinction between strong and moderate versions of monism and pluralism, understood as theses about the existence of truth properties. Section 3 introduces four pluralist positions: strong alethic pluralism, alethic disjunctivism, second-order functionalism and manifestation functionalism. These positions are classified using the basic framework from Section 2, and a further distinction between pure and mixed versions of pluralism is drawn. Interestingly, alethic disjunctivism and the two kinds of functionalism—i.e. three out of four positions— have a mixed character. They incorporate a monist thesis. The only pure form of pluralism is strong alethic pluralism. Section 4 adds another distinction to the stock: one-level and two-level views. Each of the mixed positions operates with two levels, locating certain “alethically potent”—or grounding—properties at a lower level and others at a higher level. We briefly discuss the nature of grounding. In Section 5, we answer a question about mixed, two-level views, viz. whether they are as much monist as pluralist in nature, or more. They are not. Section 6 is devoted to the task of arguing that the strong pluralist, the second-order functionalist, and the manifestation functionalist will find it hard to deny a commitment to alethic disjunctivism. (shrink)
Right now, I see a computer in front of me. Now, according to current philosophical orthodoxy, I could have the very same perceptual experience that I’m having right now even if I were not seeing a computer in front of me. Indeed, such orthodoxy tells us, I could have the very same experience that I’m having right now even if I were not seeing anything at all in front of me, but simply suffering from a hallucination. More generally, someone can (...) have the very same perceptual experience no matter whether she is enjoying a veridical perception of some mindindependent object, or merely hallucinating. What differs across these two kinds of case is not the kind of experience that she has, but rather the connections between her experience and the rest of the world. So say most philosophers. (shrink)
Disjunctivism in philosophy of perception maintains that whereas veridical perceptions are relational states involving objects of the external world, illusions and hallucinations are non-relational states of the subjects. Veridical and non veridical perceptions could be subjectively indistinguishable, but this fact would not be able to support fundamental psychological explanations. Disjunctivism has to face some important problems. The aim of this paper is to explore a peculiar elaboration of disjunctivism able to face them. Our proposal intends to be (...) substantive, offering a counterfactual explanation of the differences between veridicaland non veridical perceptions. We will arrive to an a posteriori disjunctivism for some relevant types of perceptual experiences. The a posteriori character of our position will be consequent with the external nature of the intentional objects of veridical perceptions. But our disjunctivism will be concerned only with types of perceptual experiences. That way, it could make room for many sorts of internalist psychological explanations in the context of a general disjunctivist approach. (shrink)
Alethic pluralism is the view that truth requires different treatment in different domains of discourse. The basic idea is that different properties play important roles in the analysis of truth in different domains of discourse, such as discourse about the material world, moral discourse, and mathematical discourse, to take three examples. Alethic disjunctivism is a kind of alethic pluralism, and is the view that truth is to be identified with the disjunctive property that is formed using each of the (...) domain-specific properties as disjuncts (i.e., in the view's simplest form, truth is the property of either having domain-specific property 1, or domain-specific property 2, and so on). This paper evaluates the prospects for alethic disjunctivism. In particular, it outlines the proper formulation of the view, and assesses some concerns that the disjunctive property lacks the pedigree necessary to be considered a truth property. I begin by briefly outlining the motivations for alethic pluralism, before noting four general constraints on formulations of the view. I then consider a ‘simple’ formulation of alethic disjunctivism, and recommend an amendment. I then demonstrate that the candidate truth property specified by this new formulation is able to meet the central constraints required for it to be considered a viable formulation of alethic pluralism. The final part of this demonstration involves making some distinctions between different kinds of disjunctive properties, and arguing that disjunctive properties are not necessarily highly abundant properties: some are more sparse than others. (shrink)
In the direct realist tradition of Reid and Austin, disjunctivism has joined its precursors inproudly trumpeting its allegiance with naïve realism. And the theory gains plausibility, par-ticularly as compared with adverbialism, if one considers a Wittgensteinian line of argumentregarding the use of sensation words. But ‘no common factor’ doctrines can be shown to beinconsistent with the naïve realism that has served as their main support. This does notmean that either disjunctivism or the Wittgensteinian perspective on language acquisitionthat informed (...) it must be false. It does indicate, however, that linguistic arguments againstprivate or internal meanings do not imply perceptual directness and that the espousal of direct realism—naïve or not—does not require adherence to disjunctivism. (shrink)
Disjunctivism about perceptual appearances, as I conceive of it, is a theory which seeks to preserve a naïve realist conception of veridical perception in the light of the challenge from the argument from hallucination. The naïve realist claims that some sensory experiences are relations to mind-independent objects. That is to say, taking experiences to be episodes or events, the naïve realist supposes that some such episodes have as constituents mind-independent objects. In turn, the disjunctivist claims that in a case (...) of veridical perception like this very kind of experience that you now have, the experiential episode you enjoy is of a kind which could not be occurring were you having an hallucination. The common strategy of arguments from hallucination set out to show that certain things are true of hallucinations, and hence must be true of perceptions. For example, it is argued that hallucinations must have non-physical objects of awareness, or that such states are not relations to anything at all, but are at best seeming relations to objects. In insisting that veridical perceptual experience is of a distinct kind from hallucination, the disjunctivist denies that any of these conceptions of hallucination challenges our conception of veridical perceptions as relations to mind-independent objects. More specifically, I assume that the disjunctivist advocates naïve realism because they think that this position best articulates how sensory experience seems to us to be just through reflection. If the disjunctivist is correct in this contention, then anyone who accepts the conclusion of the argument from hallucination must also accept that the nature of sensory experience is other than it seems to us to be. In turn, one may complain that any such error theory is liable to lead to sceptical consequences. A Humean scepticism about the senses launches a challenge about our knowledge of the world through questioning the conception we have of what sense experience is, and how it can provide knowledge of the world.. (shrink)
It is argued that Husserl was an “externalist” in at least one sense. For it is argued that Husserl held that genuinely perceptual experiences—that is to say, experiences that are of some real object in the world—differ intrinsically, essentially and as a kind from any hallucinatory experiences. There is, therefore, no neutral “content” that such perceptual experiences share with hallucinations, differing from them only over whether some additional non-psychological condition holds or not. In short, it is argued that Husserl was (...) a “disjunctivist”. In addition, it is argued that Husserl held that the individual object of any experience, perceptual or hallucinatory, is essential to and partly constitutive of that experience. The argument focuses on three aspects of Husserl’s thought: his account of intentional objects, his notion of horizon, and his account of reality. (shrink)