Edited by Heather Logue (University of Leeds, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
About this topic
Summary Disjunctivism in the philosophy of mind typically concerns either the nature of perceptual experience (metaphysical disjunctivism) or its epistemological significance (epistemological disjunctivism). At a minimum, metaphysical disjunctivism holds that veridical experience and at least some non-veridical experiences are fundamentally different.  The primary motivation for disjunctivism about perceptual experience is naïve realism, the view that veridical experience fundamentally consists in the subject perceiving things in her environment. Since some non-veridical experiences (total hallucinations) don’t involve perceiving things in one’s environment, these must be fundamentally different from veridical experiences as naïve realism characterizes them. Epistemological disjunctivism holds that veridical experience puts its subject in a superior epistemic position with respect to propositions about her environment than subjectively indiscriminable non-veridical experiences do. It is employed as an anti-skeptical strategy: in the context of one kind of argument for skepticism about the external world, it constitutes a denial of the premise that a veridical experience puts one in the same epistemic position as a subjectively indiscriminable illusion or hallucination. Arguably, epistemological disjunctivism neither entails nor is entailed by metaphysical disjunctivism. 
Key works Prominent proponents of metaphysical disjunctivism include Hinton 1967Martin 2004, and Fish 2009, and prominent critics include Johnston 2004 and Siegel 2008. Prominent proponents of epistemological disjunctivism include McDowell 1982 and Pritchard 2012, and Wright 2002 is a prominent critic of the view. Byrne & Logue 2009 is a collection of classic texts concerning both metaphysical and epistemological disjunctivism, and Haddock & Macpherson 2008 is a collection of more contemporary essays on the views.
Introductions Encyclopedia entries include Soteriou 2009, Fish 2009, and Brogaard 2010.
Related categories

221 found
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  1. Hallucination And Imagination.Keith Allen - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2):287-302.
    What are hallucinations? A common view in the philosophical literature is that hallucinations are degenerate kinds of perceptual experience. I argue instead that hallucinations are degenerate kinds of sensory imagination. As well as providing a good account of many actual cases of hallucination, the view that hallucination is a kind of imagination represents a promising account of hallucination from the perspective of a disjunctivist theory of perception like naïve realism. This is because it provides a way of giving a positive (...)
  2. An Argument Against Disjunctivism.Jan Almang - 2013 - In Christer Svennerlind, Jan Almäng & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Ontos Verlag. pp. 5--15.
    According to disjunctivism the object of perception is a part of the perceptual experience. This however raises the question of what the other constituents of the perceptual experience might be. In this paper I suggest that there may be no answer to this question that does not violate another core claim of disjunctivism, viz. that veridical perceptual experiences are experiences of different kinds than hallucinatory experiences.
  3. Naïve Realism and Unconscious Perception: A Reply to Berger and Nanay.Alfonso Anaya & Sam Clarke - forthcoming - Analysis.
    In a recent paper, Berger and Nanay consider, and reject, three ways of addressing the phenomenon of unconscious perception within a naive realist framework. Since these three approaches seem to exhaust the options open to naive realists, and since there is said to be excellent evidence that perception of the same fundamental kind can occur, both consciously and unconsciously, this is seen to present a problem for the view. We take this opportunity to show that all three approaches considered remain (...)
  4. The Openness of Illusions.Louise Antony - 2011 - Philosophical Issues 21 (1):25-44.
    Illusions are thought to make trouble for the intuition that perceptual experience is "open" to the world. Some have suggested, in response to the this trouble, that illusions differ from veridical experience in the degree to which their character is determined by their engagement with the world. An understanding of the psychology of perception reveals that this is not the case: veridical and falsidical perceptions engage the world in the same way and to the same extent. While some contemporary vision (...)
  5. Silencing the Argument From Hallucination.István Aranyosi - 2014 - In Fiona MacPherson & Dimitris Platchias (eds.), Hallucination (MIT Press).
    Ordinary people tend to be realists regarding perceptual experience, that is, they take perceiving the environment as a direct, unmediated, straightforward access to a mindindependent reality. Not so for (ordinary) philosophers. The empiricist influence on the philosophy of perception, in analytic philosophy at least, made the problem of perception synonymous with the view that realism is untenable. Admitting the problem (and trying to offer a view on it) is tantamount to rejecting ordinary people’s implicit realist assumptions as naive. So what (...)
  6. John McDowell by Maximilian de Gaynesford and John McDowell by Tim Thornton.Alexander Bagattini & Marcus Willaschek - 2006 - Philosophical Books 47 (3):281-284.
  7. Sensorimotor Direct Realism: How We Enact Our World.M. Beaton - 2016 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (2):265-276.
    Context: Direct realism is a non-reductive, anti-representationalist theory of perception lying at the heart of mainstream analytic philosophy, where it is currently generating a lot of interest. For all that, it is widely held to be both controversial and anti-scientific. On the other hand, the sensorimotor theory of perception initially generated a lot of interest within enactive philosophy of cognitive science, but has arguably not yet delivered on its initial promise. Problem: I aim to show that the sensorimotor theory and (...)
  8. Disjunctivism and Perceptual Knowledge in Merleau-Ponty and McDowell.J. C. Berendzen - 2013 - Res Philosophica 91 (3):1-26.
    On the face of it, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s views bear a strong resemblance to contemporary disjunctivist theories of perception, especially John McDowell’s epistemological disjunctivism. Like McDowell , Merleau-Ponty seems to be a direct realist about perception and holds that veridical and illusory perceptions are distinct. This paper furthers this comparison. Furthermore, it is argued that elements of Merleau-Ponty’s thought provide a stronger case for McDowell’s kind of epistemological view than McDowell himself provides. Merleau-Ponty’s early thought can be used to develop a (...)
  9. L'hallucination: 1. Recherches Théoriques.Alfred Binet - 1884 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 17:377 - 412.
  10. Disjunctivism.Stephan Blatti - 2006 - In A. C. Grayling, A. Pyle & N. Goulder (eds.), Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy. Continuum.
    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, (...)
  11. How to Account for Illusion.Bill Brewer - 2008 - In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press. pp. 168-180.
    The question how to account for illusion has had a prominent role in shaping theories of perception throughout the history of philosophy. Prevailing philosophical wisdom today has it that phenomena of illusion force us to choose between the following two options. First, reject altogether the early modern empiricist idea that the core subjective character of perceptual experience is to be given simply by citing the object presented in that experience. Instead we must characterize perceptual experience entirely in terms of its (...)
  12. Primitive Knowledge Disjunctivism.Berit Brogaard - 2011 - Philosophical Issues 21 (1):45-73.
    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 (...)
  13. Disjunctivism.Berit Brogaard - 2010 - Oxford Annotated Bibliographies Online.
    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. (...)
  14. Disjunctivism Again.Tyler Burge - 2011 - Philosophical Explorations 14 (1):43-80.
  15. Disjunctivism and Perceptual Psychology.Tyler Burge - 2005 - Philosophical Topics 33 (1):1-78.
    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 (...)
  16. Disjunctivism: Contemporary Readings.Alex Byrne & Heather Logue (eds.) - 2009 - MIT Press.
    Classic texts that define the disjunctivist theory of perception.
  17. Introduction.Alex Byrne & Heather Logue - 2009 - In Alex Byrne & Heather Logue (eds.), Disjunctivism: Contemporary Readings. MIT Press.
  18. Either/Or.Alex Byrne & Heather Logue - 2008 - In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press. pp. 314-19.
    This essay surveys the varieties of disjunctivism about perceptual experience. Disjunctivism comes in two main flavours, metaphysical and epistemological.
  19. O argumento da ilusão/alucinação e o disjuntivismo: Ayer versus Austin.Eros Moreira de Carvalho - 2015 - Skepsis: A Journal for Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Research 12:85-106.
    The argument from illusion/hallucination have been proposed many times as supporting the strong conclusion that we are always perceiving directly sense-data. In Sense & Sensibilia, Austin argues that this argument is based on a “mass of seductive (mainly verbal) fallacies”. In this paper, I argue that Austin's argumentative moves to deconstruct the argument from illusion is better understood if they are seen as due to his implicit commitment to some disjunctivist conception of perception. His considerations should be taken as a (...)
  20. Internismo Sem Intelectualismo E Sem Reflexividade.Eros Moreira De Carvalho - 2014 - Kriterion: Revista de Filosofia 55 (129):153-172.
    In his book, "Perception as a Capacity for Knowledge" (2011), John McDowell advocates that the warranty provided by perception is infallible. For such, it is necessary understanding the role reason plays for the constitution of genuine perceptual states. Through reason, we situate these states on the logical space of reasoning. So, we not only make of the perceptual state into an episode of knowledge, but we also acquire knowledge of how we arrived to that knowledge. McDowell argues that this condition (...)
  21. Stroud, Austin, and Radical Skepticism.Eros Moreira de Carvalho & Flavio Williges - 2016 - Sképsis 14:57-75.
    Is ruling out the possibility that one is dreaming a requirement for a knowledge claim? In “Philosophical Scepticism and Everyday Life” (1984), Barry Stroud defends that it is. In “Others Minds” (1970), John Austin says it is not. In his defense, Stroud appeals to a conception of objectivity deeply rooted in us and with which our concept of knowledge is intertwined. Austin appeals to a detailed account of our scientific and everyday practices of knowledge attribution. Stroud responds that what Austin (...)
  22. Causality, Interpretation, and the Mind.William Child - 1994 - Oxford University Press.
    Philosophers of mind have long been interested in the relation between two ideas: that causality plays an essential role in our understanding of the mental; and that we can gain an understanding of belief and desire by considering the ascription of attitudes to people on the basis of what they say and do. Many have thought that those ideas are incompatible. William Child argues that there is in fact no tension between them, and that we should accept both. He shows (...)
  23. Vision and Experience: The Causal Theory and the Disjunctive Conception.William Child - 1992 - Philosophical Quarterly 42 (168):297-316.
  24. Current Issues in Idealism.Paul Coates - 1996 - Bristol: Thoemmes.
  25. Idealism and Theories of Perception.Paul Coates - 1996 - In Current Issues in Idealism. Bristol: Thoemmes.
  26. Justified Vs. Warranted Perceptual Belief: Resisting Disjunctivism.Juan Comesaña - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):367-383.
    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 (...)
  27. Naïve Realism and Extreme Disjunctivism.M. D. Conduct - 2010 - Philosophical Explorations 13 (3):201-221.
    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.
  28. Opposing Skepticism Disjunctively.Earl Conee - unknown
    Disjunctivists hold that perceiving external objects is fundamentally different from any experiential state that is not a perception. In fact, roughly speaking, disjunctivists say that they have nothing in common. Suppose that it appears to someone as though she perceives something. Disjunctivists say that there are two disparate sorts of facts that could make this true. Either she is genuinely perceiving something, or she is in an experiential state of merely apparent perception. An apparent perception is fundamentally unlike a perception. (...)
  29. Disjunctivism and Anti-Skepticism.Earl Conee - 2007 - Philosophical Issues 17 (1):16–36.
  30. Reflective Epistemological Disjunctivism.J. J. Cunningham - 2016 - Episteme 13 (1):111-132.
    It is now common to distinguish Metaphysical from Epistemological Disjunctivism. It is equally common to suggest that it is at least not obvious that the latter requires a commitment to the former: at the very least, a suitable bridge principle will need to be identified which takes one from the latter to the former. This paper identifies a plausible-looking bridge principle that takes one from the version of Epistemological Disjunctivism defended by John McDowell and Duncan Pritchard, which I label Reflective (...)
  31. Arguments From Illusion.Jonathan Dancy - 1995 - Philosophical Quarterly 45 (181):421-438.
  32. Parasitism and Disjunctivism in Nyāya Epistemology.Matthew R. Dasti - 2012 - Philosophy East and West 62 (1):1-15.
    From the early modern period, Western epistemologists have often been concerned with a rigorous notion of epistemic justification, epitomized in the work of Descartes: properly held beliefs require insulation from extreme skepticism. To the degree that veridical cognitive states may be indistinguishable from non-veridical states, apparently veridical states cannot enjoy high-grade positive epistemic status. Therefore, a good believer begins from what are taken to be neutral, subjective experiences and reasons outward—hopefully identifying the kinds of appearances that properly link up to (...)
  33. Epistemological Disjunctivism, by Duncan Pritchard.Leandro de Brasi - 2013 - Disputatio (Online First).
    de Brasi, Leandro_Epistemological Disjunctivism, by Duncan Pritchard.
  34. The Given in Perceptual Experience.Erhan Demircioglu - 2015 - Synthese 1 (8):1-27.
    How are we to account for the epistemic contribution of our perceptual experiences to the reasonableness of our perceptual beliefs? It is well known that a conception heavily influenced by Cartesian thinking has it that experiences do not enable the experiencing subject to have direct epistemic contact with the external world; rather, they are regarded as openness to a kind of private inner realm that is interposed between the subject and the world. It turns out that if one wants to (...)
  35. Criteria for Indefeasible Knowledge: John Mcdowell and 'Epistemological Disjunctivism'.Peter Dennis - 2014 - Synthese 191 (17):4099-4113.
    Duncan Pritchard has recently defended a view he calls ‘epistemological disjunctivism’, largely inspired by John McDowell. I argue that Pritchard is right to associate the view with McDowell, and that McDowell’s ‘inference-blocking’ argument against the sceptic succeeds only if epistemological disjunctivism is accepted. However, Pritchard also recognises that epistemological disjunctivism appears to conflict with our belief that genuine and illusory experiences are indistinguishable (the ‘distinguishability problem’). Since the indistinguishability of experiences is the antecedent in the inference McDowell intends to block, (...)
  36. Disjunctivism, Hallucination and Metacognition.Jérôme Dokic & Jean-Rémy Martin - 2012 - WIREs Cognitive Science 3:533-543.
    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 (...)
  37. Perceptual Acquaintance and the Seeming Relationality of Hallucinations.Fabian Dorsch - forthcoming - Journal of Consciousness Studies.
    In recent years, it has become popular again to endorse relationalism about perception.1 According to this view, perceptions are essentially relational experiences and thus di er in nature from non-relational hallucinations. In this article, I assume that relationalism is true. The issue that I am generally interested in is rather which version of relationalism we should endorse, given that perceptions are relational. The standard answer to this question is Acquaintance Relationalism, the view that perceptions are relational in so far as (...)
  38. Transparency and Imagining Seeing.Fabian Dorsch - 2013 - In Marcus Willaschek (ed.), Disjunctivism – Disjunctive Accounts in Epistemology and in the Philosophy of Perception. Routledge. pp. 5-32.
    In his paper, The Transparency of Experience, M.G.F. Martin has put forward a well- known – though not always equally well understood – argument for the disjunctivist, and against the intentional, approach to perceptual experiences. In this article, I intend to do four things: (i) to present the details of Martin’s complex argument; (ii) to defend its soundness against orthodox intentionalism; (iii) to show how Martin’s argument speaks as much in favour of experiential intentionalism as it speaks in favour of (...)
  39. Experience and Introspection.Fabian Dorsch - 2013 - In Fiona Macpherson & Dimitris Platchias (eds.), Hallucination. The MIT Press. pp. 175-220.
    One central fact about hallucinations is that they may be subjectively indistinguishable from perceptions. Indeed, it has been argued that the hallucinatory experiences concerned cannot— and need not—be characterized in any more positive general terms. This epistemic conception of hallucinations has been advocated as the best choice for proponents of experiential (or “naive realist”) disjunctivism—the view that perceptions and hallucinations differ essentially in their introspectible subjective characters. In this chapter, I aim to formulate and defend an intentional alternative to experiential (...)
  40. The Diversity of Disjunctivism. [REVIEW]Fabian Dorsch - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (2):304-314.
    In this review article, I introduce a classification of metaphysical and epistemological forms of disjunctivism and critically discuss the essays on disjunctivism in the philosophy of perception, the philosophy of action and epistemology that are published in Fiona Macpherson and Adrian Haddock’s collection 'Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge' (Oxford University Press, 2008).
  41. Visualising as Imagining Seeing.Fabian Dorsch - 2011 - Kongress-Akten der Deutschen Gesellschaft Für Philosophie 22:1-16.
    In this paper, I would like to put forward the claim that, at least in some central cases, visualising consists literally in imagining seeing. The first section of my paper is concerned with a defence of the specific argument for this claim that M. G. F. Martin presents in his paper 'The Transparency of Experience' (Martin 2002). This argument has been often misunderstood (or ignored), and it is worthwhile to discuss it in detail and to illus­trate what its precise nature (...)
  42. Transparency and Imagining Seeing.Fabian Dorsch - 2010 - Philosophical Explorations 13 (3):173-200.
    In his paper, The Transparency of Experience, M.G.F. Martin has put forward a well- known – though not always equally well understood – argument for the disjunctivist, and against the intentional, approach to perceptual experiences. In this article, I intend to do four things: (i) to present the details of Martin’s complex argument; (ii) to defend its soundness against orthodox intentionalism; (iii) to show how Martin’s argument speaks as much in favour of experiential intentionalism as it speaks in favour of (...)
  43. Appearances and Disjunctions: Empirical Authority in McDowell's Space of Reasons.Jesús Vega Encabo - 2006 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):63-81.
  44. The Possibility of Empirical Knowledge.Michael P. Fenton - unknown
    This thesis offers a reassessment of the philosophical problem of scepticism about knowledge of the external world. It distinguishes between different forms of this sceptical problem and considers two kinds of response: a strategy developed by Tim Williamson, and a disjunctivist approach. Chapters one and two offer an introduction to the problem of scepticism: the sceptical arguments of Descartes and Hume are compared, and Williamson’s approach to scepticism is introduced. Chapter three considers three different ways of responding to Humean scepticism. (...)
  45. Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion: Reply to My Critics. [REVIEW]William Fish - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):57-66.
    This book provides the first full-length treatment of disjunctivism about visual experiences in the service of defending a naive realist theory of veridical visual perception. It includes detailed theories of hallucination and illusion that show how such states can be indistinguishable from veridical experiences without sharing any common character.
  46. Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion.William Fish - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
    In the first monograph in this exciting area since then, William Fish develops a comprehensive disjunctive theory, incorporating detailed accounts of the three ...
  47. Disjunctivism.William Fish - 2009 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    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 (...)
  48. Disjunctivism and Non-Disjunctivism: Making Sense of the Debate.William Fish - 2004 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (1):119-127.
  49. Disjunctivism, Indistinguishability, and the Nature of Hallucination.William C. Fish - 2008 - In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press. pp. 144--167.
    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 (...)
  50. Disjunctivism and Non-Disjunctivism: Making Sense of the Debate.William C. Fish - 2005 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (1):119-127.
    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 (...)
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