About this topic
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. Modeling Mental Qualities.Andrew Y. Lee - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
    Conscious experiences are characterized by mental qualities, such as those involved in seeing red, feeling pain, or smelling cinnamon. The standard framework for modeling mental qualities represents them via points in multidimensional spaces, where distances between points inversely correspond to degrees of phenomenal similarity. This paper argues that the standard framework is structurally inadequate and develops a new framework that is more powerful and flexible. The core problem for the standard framework is that it cannot capture precision structure: for example, (...)
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  2. James of Viterbo's Innatist Theory of Cognition.Jean-Luc Solere - 2018 - In A Companion to James of Viterbo. Leiden, Netherlands: pp. 168-217.
    James of Viterbio is one of the rare medieval authors to sustain a thoroughly innatist philosophy. He borrows from Simplicius the notion of idoneitas (aptitude, predisposition) so as to ground a cognition theory in which external things are not the efficient and formal causes of mental acts. A predisposition has the characteristic of being halfway between potentiality and actuality. Therefore, the subject that has predispositions does not need to be acted upon by another thing to actualize them. External things only (...)
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  3. The Pairing Account of Infant Direct Social Perception.S. Vincini - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 27 (1-2):173-205.
    This paper evaluates Husserl’s and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological notion of pairing in light of a representative variety of findings and views in contemporary developmental psychology. This notion belongs to the direct social perception framework, which suggests that the fundamental access to other minds is intuitive, or perceptual. Pairing entails that the perception of other minds relies merely on first-person embodied experience and domain-general processes. For this reason, pairing is opposed to cognitive nativist views that assume specialized mechanisms for low-level mental state (...)
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  4. Seeing Entities without Seeing N-Entities.G. Ferretti & F. Marchi - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 27 (1-2):57-70.
    When seeing a jaguar, we can see all the spots on its mantle without seeing a determinate number, N, of spots on the mantle. How is this visual phenomenon possible? Philosophers have tried to provide a reliable answer to this question, by recruiting evidence from vision science about the way attention works. Here we push this idea forward, by suggesting that an alternative and less complex solution, with respect to the one proposed in the literature, is possible. In particular, we (...)
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  5. Yale Gallery Talk, Language Perception and Representation.PhD Tanya Kelley - forthcoming - Https://Drive.Google.Com/File/D/1YHzX_YR_wOWC3JUvfBcW7KucWX0Wlr_o/View.
    Yale Gallery Talk, Language Perception and Representation Tanya Kelley and James Prosek Linguist and artist Tanya Kelley, Ph.D., and artist, writer, and naturalist James Prosek, B.A. 1997, discuss color manuals used by artist-naturalists and biologists and lead visitors in close looking and drawing. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition James Prosek: Art, Artifact, Artifice. Space is limited. Open to: General Public .
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  6. Epistemology and the Structure of Language.Jeffrey A. Barrett & Travis LaCroix - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-15.
    We are concerned here with how structural properties of language may come to reflect features of the world in which it evolves. As a concrete example, we will consider how a simple term language might evolve to support the principle of indifference over state descriptions in that language. The point is not that one is justified in applying the principle of indifference to state descriptions in natural language. Instead, it is that one should expect a language that has evolved in (...)
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  7. Different Kinds of Fusion Experiences.Alberto Voltolini - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (1):203-222.
    Some people have stressed that there is a close analogy between meaning experiences, i.e., experiences as of understanding concerning linguistic expressions, and seeing-in experiences, i.e., pictorial experiences of discerning a certain item – what a certain picture presents, viz. the picture’s subject – in another item – the picture’s vehicle, the picture’s physical basis. Both can be seen as fusion experiences, in the minimal sense that they are experiential wholes made up of different aspects. Actually, two important similarities between such (...)
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  8. Molyneux’s Question and the Semantics of Seeing.Dimitria Gatzia, Berit Brogaard & Bartek Chomanski - forthcoming - In Routledge Handbook of Molyneux’s Question.
    The aim of this chapter is to shed new light on the question of what newly-sighted subjects are capable of seeing on the basis of previous experience with mind-independent, external objects and their properties through touch alone. This question is also known as “Molyneux’s Question.” Much of the empirically driven debate surrounding this question has been centered on the nature of the representational content of the subjects’ visual experiences. It has generally been assumed that the meaning of “seeing” deployed in (...)
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  9. The Epistemology of Non-Visual Perception.Dimitria Gatzia & Berit Brogaard (eds.) - 2020 - Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.
    This is an anthology of new papers by top researchers in epistemology and philosophy of mind focused on the epistemology of non-visual perception. The focus of the volume is to highlight the many different domains in which non-visual sensory experience, broadly construed to include multimodal experience associated with emotional and agential perception, plays a rational role, for instance, as an immediate justifier of belief. -/- .
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  10. Knowledge and Representations: Explaining the Skeptical Puzzle.Guido Melchior - 2017 - In C. Limbeck-Lilienau and F. Stadler (ed.), The Philosophy of Perception and Observation. Papers of the 40th International Wittgenstein Symposium. pp. 150-152.
    (*This paper was awarded the Elisabeth and Werner Leinfellner Award 2017 for outstanding contributions.) -/- This paper provides an explanation of the skeptical puzzle. I argue that we can take two distinct points of view towards representations, mental representations like perceptual experiences and artificial representations like symbols. When focusing on what the representation represents we take an attached point of view. When focusing on the representational character of the representation we take a detached point view. From an attached point of (...)
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  11. Neural phase: a new problem for the modal account of epistemic luck.Adam Michael Bricker - 2019 - Synthese:1-18.
    One of the most widely recognised intuitions about knowledge is that knowing precludes believing truly as a matter of luck. On Pritchard’s highly influential modal account of epistemic luck, luckily true beliefs are, roughly, those for which there are many close possible worlds in which the same belief formed in the same way is false. My aim is to introduce a new challenge to this account. Starting from the observation—as documented by a number of recent EEG studies—that our capacity to (...)
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  12. Heart and Mind, Light and Love: The Right Intuitive Mind of Joan of Arc.C. B. Platt - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (11-12):182-202.
    Joan of Arc was as a mere 13-year-old girl when she first heard voices and saw visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Margaret of Antioch in her fathers garden. Both of her female saints were popular in the Middle Ages when these hallucinations began and she would have been familiar with their images as displayed in the local church in Domremy. But it is difficult to understand how a young and inexperienced girl could produce, accept, (...)
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  13. Knowledge and Sensory Knowledge in Hume's Treatise.Graham Clay - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 10.
    I argue that the Hume of the Treatise maintains an account of knowledge according to which (i) every instance of knowledge must be an immediately present perception (i.e., an impression or an idea); (ii) an object of this perception must be a token of a knowable relation; (iii) this token knowable relation must have parts of the instance of knowledge as relata (i.e., the same perception that has it as an object); and any perception that satisfies (i)-(iii) is an instance (...)
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  14. Locating Consciousness: Why Experience Can't Be Objectified.T. W. Clark - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (11-12):60-85.
    The world appears to conscious creatures in terms of experienced sensory qualities, but science doesn't find sensory experience in that world, only physical objects and properties. I argue that the failure to locate consciousness in the world is a function of our necessarily representational relation to reality as knowers: we won't discover the terms in which reality is represented by us in the world as it appears in those terms. Qualia -- arguably a type of representational content -- will therefore (...)
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  15. The Myth of Stochastic Infallibilism.Adam Michael Bricker - forthcoming - Episteme:1-16.
    There is a widespread attitude in epistemology that, if you know on the basis of perception, then you couldn’t have been wrong as a matter of chance. Despite the apparent intuitive plausibility of this attitude, which I’ll refer to here as “stochastic infallibilism”, it fundamentally misunderstands the way that human perceptual systems actually work. Perhaps the most important lesson of signal detection theory (SDT) is that our percepts are inherently subject to random error, and here I’ll highlight some key empirical (...)
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  16. From Sensations to Concepts: A Proposal for Two Learning Processes.Peter Gärdenfors - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (3):441-464.
    This article presents two learning processes in order to explain how children at an early age can transform a complex sensory input to concepts and categories. The first process constructs the perceptual structures that emerge in children’s cognitive development by detecting invariants in the sensory input. The invariant structures involve a reduction in dimensionality of the sensory information. It is argued that this process generates the primary domains of space, objects and actions and that these domains can be represented as (...)
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  17. Russell on Acquaintance.R. M. Sainsbury - 1986 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 20:219-244.
    In Russell's Problems of Philosophy , acquaintance is the basis of thought and also the basis of empirical knowledge. Thought is based on acquaintance, in that a thinker has to be acquainted with the basic constituents of his thoughts. Empirical knowledge is based on acquaintance, in that acquaintance is involved in perception, and perception is the ultimate source of all empirical knowledge.
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  18. From Sensorimotor Dependencies to Perceptual Practices: Making Enactivism Social.Alejandro Arango - 2018 - Adaptive Behavior 27 (1):31-45.
    Proponents of enactivism should be interested in exploring what notion of action best captures the type of action-perception link that the view proposes, such that it covers all the aspects in which our doings constitute and are constituted by our perceiving. This article proposes and defends the thesis that the notion of sensorimotor dependencies is insufficient to account for the reality of human perception, and that the central enactive notion should be that of perceptual practices. Sensorimotor enactivism is insufficient because (...)
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  19. Motivation and the Primacy of Perception: Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Knowledge.Peter Antich - forthcoming - Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
    In "Motivation and the Primacy of Perception," I offer an interpretation and defense of Merleau-Ponty's thesis of the "primacy of perception," namely, that knowledge is ultimately founded in perceptual experience. I use Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological conception of "motivation" as an interpretative key. As I show, motivation in this sense amounts to a novel form of epistemic grounding, one which upends the classical dichotomy between reason and natural causality, justification and explanation. The purpose of my book is to show how this novel (...)
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  20. Discussion of John McDowell's “Perceptual Experience and Empirical Rationality”.David de Bruijn, Charles Goldhaber, Andrea Kern, John McDowell, Declan Smithies, Alison Springle & Bosuk Yoon - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (1):99-111.
  21. Offenheit zur Welt. Die Auflösung des Dualismus von Begriff und Anschauung.David Lauer - 2014 - In Christian Barth & David Lauer (eds.), Die Philosophie John McDowells. Muenster: Mentis. pp. 37-62.
    This article (in German) discusses the scope and content of John McDowell's famous claim that human perception is "conceptual all the way out". I motivate the claim by explaining its role within McDowell's transcendental concern to account for the mind's "openness to the world", i. e. the immediate presence or givenness (no capital "G") of objective reality in human perception. I argue that (a) dissolving this problem requires us to understand human perception as a rational power, that (b) a rational (...)
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  22. Perception, Reason, and Knowledge. [REVIEW]R. M. K. - 1973 - Review of Metaphysics 27 (2):371-371.
    The author has set out to provide an introduction to the theory of knowledge through a more "thorough study of three of its central topics." Unfortunately, he does not accomplish this for many reasons. Arner never discusses the birth of the epistemological problem that can be traced as far back as Plato, nor does he go into the implications of the problem. He chooses rather to give a superficial introduction into some of the more common problematic themes. Assuming this cursory (...)
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  23. Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception. [REVIEW]Robert A. Wilson - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (1):117-132.
    In this initially daunting but ultimately enjoyable and informative book, Mohan Matthen argues that this tradition is mistaken about both the processes of perception or sensing and the relationship between sensation, perception, and cognition. Since this tradition is sufficiently alive and well in the contemporary literature to constitute something like the received view of perception and the role of sensation in it, Matthen’s challenge and the alternative view he proposes are potentially significant. Sensory systems, Matthen thinks, are primarily devices for (...)
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  24. Replies to Marian David, Anil Gupta, and Keith Simmons.Christopher S. Hill - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (1):205-222.
    I thank the commentators for their extremely rich and stimulating discussions of Thought and World.1 Their commentaries show that a number of TW’s claims are in need of clarification and defense, and that some of its arguments contain substantial lacunae. I am very pleased to have these flaws called to my attention, and to have an opportunity to try to correct them. Also, I am grateful for the commentators’ endorsements. As is perhaps inevitable in a symposium of this kind, the (...)
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  25. Equivalence, Reliability, and Convergence: Replies to McDowell, Peacocke, and Neta.Anil Gupta - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2):490-508.
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  26. The Knowledge-As-Perception Account of Knowledge.Thomas D. Senor - 2016 - Journal of Philosophical Research 41 (9999):91-109.
    William Alston once argued that justification is not necessary for knowledge. He was convinced of this because he thought that, in cases of clear perception, one could come to know that P even if one’s justification for believing P was defeated. The idea is that the epistemic strength of clear perception is sufficient to provide knowledge even where justification is lacking; perceiving that P is sufficient for knowing that P. In this paper, I explore a claim about knowledge that is (...)
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  27. Perception and Our Knowledge of the External World.Herbert Heidelberger - 1970 - Philosophical Review 79 (2):284.
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  28. Phenomenology of Perception: Theories and Experimental Evidence.Carmelo Cali - 2017 - Brill | Rodopi.
    _Phenomenology of Perception: Theories and Experimental Evidence_ presents an interpretation of phenomenology as a set of commitments to discover the immanent grammar of perception by reviewing arguments and experimental results that are still important today for psychology and the cognitive sciences.
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  29. On the Problem of Perceptual Defense.Leo Postman - 1953 - Psychological Review 60 (5):298-306.
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  30. Perceptual Knowledge and the Primacy of Judgment.Barry Stroud - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (3):385--395.
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  31. Epistemological Disjunctivism by Duncan Pritchard. Scho&#X. & G. Nbaumsfeld - 2015 - Analysis 75 (4):604-615.
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  32. The Epistemic Role of Experience.Frank Hofmann - unknown
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  33. -Sense-Knowledge.James Ward - 1919 - Mind 28 (4):447-462.
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  34. Epistemological Disjunctivism by Duncan Pritchard.Genia Schönbaumsfeld - 2015 - Analysis 75 (4):604-615.
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  35. Perception: And Our Knowledge of the External World.Don Locke - 1967 - Ny: Routledge.
    First published in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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  36. Aristotle's Empiricism: Experience and Mechanics in the 4th Century BC. [REVIEW]Monica Ugaglia - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):99-101.
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  37. The Cognitive Architecture of Perception.Juan Vázquez (ed.) - 2014 - Universidade de Porto.
    Putting forward an original analysis of perceiving as a cognitive attitude, as it contrasts with judging, believing and knowing, the author approaches several issues in the philosophy of perception, such as differences between presentation and representation, the natures of concepts and categorization, the justification of perceptual beliefs and their role in the justification of knowledge. His approach is influenced by phenomenology and by psychology and neuroscience of vision.
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  38. Reason and Experience. [REVIEW]C. A. V. - 1951 - Journal of Philosophy 48 (24):760-762.
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  39. Perceptual Objectivity and Consciousness: A Relational Response to Burge’s Challenge.Naomi Eilan - 2015 - Topoi:1-12.
    My question is: does phenomenal consciousness have a critical role in explaining the way conscious perceptions achieve objective import? I approach it through developing a dilemma I label ‘Burge’s Challenge’, which is implicit in his approach to perceptual objectivity. It says, crudely: either endorse the general structure of his account of how objective perceptual import is achieved, and give up on a role for consciousness. Or, relinquish Caused Representation, and possibly defend a role for consciousness. Someone I call Burge* holds (...)
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  40. Moral Knowledge Assessment of a Perceptual Paradigm.Peter Sandø - 1988
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  41. Has Bertrand Russell Solved the Problem of Perception? A Critical Exposition of Bertrand Russell's Analysis of Sense Perception and its Relation with the External World.J. Obi Oguejiofor - 1994
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  42. A Hindu Critique of Buddhist Epistemology Kumarila on Perception.John A. Taber & Kumåarila Bhaòtòta - 2004
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  43. Sense Perception.Ayatollah S. Khamenei - unknown - Kheradnameh Sadra Quarterly 19.
    There are various philosophical doctrines on sense perception; including that of Mulla Sadra which is a marked one. Prior to expounding this doctrine, we should get acquainted with its foundations .Though not a sensationalist, Mulla Sadra accepts direct involvement of sense in human knowledge. He regards "attention" and "awareness" as two important constituents of perception and believes that they are immaterial and included among the faculties of the soul. According to Mulla Sadra the Knowledge is essentially the presence of the (...)
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  44. Epistemological Writings.Hermann Von Helmholtz, Malcolm F. Lowe, Robert S. Cohen & Yehuda Elkana - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (2):333-334.
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  45. Problem: The Validity of Sense Perception.M. Patricia - 1938 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 14:121.
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  46. Language and Sense Perception.M. Whitcomb Hess - 1947 - The Thomist 10:56.
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  47. Dancy . . - Perceptual knowledge. [REVIEW]J. Largeault - 1989 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 179:647.
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  48. Direct Perception in Mathematics: A Case for Epistemological Priority.Bart Kerkhove & Erik Myin - 2002 - Logique Et Analyse 45.
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  49. PRICHARD, H. A. - Knowledge and Perception: Essays and Lectures. [REVIEW]H. H. Price - 1951 - Mind 60:103.
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  50. DICKER, G. "Perceptual Knowledge". [REVIEW]J. W. Roxbee-cox - 1983 - Mind 92:279.
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