The Cartesian thesis that some justifications are infallible faces a gradation puzzle. On the one hand, infallible justification tolerates absolutely no possibility for error. On the other hand, infallible justifications can vary in evidential force: e.g. two persons can both be infallible regarding their pains while the one with stronger pain is nevertheless more justified. However, if a type of justification is gradable in strength, why can it always be absolute? This paper explores the potential of this gradation challenge by (...) rejecting Fumerton's recent ‘semantic decision' solution. On Fumerton's suggestion, the putative gradation of infallible justifications is essentially semantic. It concerns only how we use the relevant term but not how well we perceive the truth. Regardless of its intuitive appeal, Fumerton's solution does not cover all the related situations. There is an irreducibly epistemic sense in which infallible justifications vary in degrees. (shrink)
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 (...) argue that the puzzling visual phenomenon of 'seeing entities without seeing N-entities' strictly depends on the specific number of entities we are simultaneously attending to: a problematic scenario concerning this visual process arises only when the number of entities in the visual field exceeds a specific quantity. This depends, as we argue, on the fact that the nature of our visual content is modulated, in this perceptual scenario, by the limited way we can exercise visual attention on the properties of the objects of our perception. Differently from other accounts, our proposal allows us to properly define when and why such a problem arises, and explains why such a situation has traditionally been found to be so puzzling. Our idea is also well motivated by experimental results that so far have not been taken into account in the debate. (shrink)
Imagine I hold up a Granny Smith apple for all to see. You would thereby gain justified beliefs that it was green, that it was apple, and that it is a Granny Smith apple. Under classical foundationalism, such simple visual beliefs are mediately justified on the basis of reasons concerning your experience. Under dogmatism, some or all of these beliefs are justified immediately by your experience and not by reasons you possess. This paper argues for what I call the looks (...) view of the justification of simple visual beliefs. According to the looks view, such beliefs are mediately justified on the basis of reasons concerning how the relevant things look. Unlike under classical foundationalism, under the looks view as I develop it, these reasons are public. They are public with respect to both their content and possession: with respect to content, they are not about ourselves and our experiences, and with respect to their possession, many people can have the very same looks-related reasons. (shrink)
Walking through the supermarket, I see the avocados. I know they are avocados. Similarly, if you see a pumpkin on my office desk, you can know it’s a pumpkin from its looks. The phenomenology in such cases is that of “just seeing” that such and such. This phenomenology might suggest that the knowledge gained is immediate. This paper argues, to the contrary, that in these target cases, the knowledge is mediate, depending as it does on one’s knowledge of what the (...) relevant kind of thing looks like. To make the case requires examining the nature of knowing what Fs look like. Is such knowledge to be understood as knowledge of a fact, or rather as a kind of ability? From the conclusion that the knowledge in the target cases is not immediate, the paper concludes that perception does not afford us immediate knowledge concerning objects’ kinds. (shrink)
Several philosophers have distinguished between three distinct mental states that play a role in visual recognition: experiences, propositional seemings, and beliefs. I clarify and offer some reasons for drawing this three-fold distinction, and I consider its epistemological implications. Some philosophers have held that propositional seemings always confer prima facie justification, regardless of a particular seeming's relation to experience. I add to criticisms of this view in the literature by arguing that it fails to solve a version of the ‘problem of (...) the speckled hen’. A more promising view holds that propositional seemings confer justification only when appropriately related to experiences. I offer advice for developing such an account. (shrink)
Perceptions guide our actions and provide us with evidence of the world around us. Illusions and hallucinations can mislead us: they may prompt as to act in ways that do not mesh with the world around us and they may lead us to form false beliefs about that world. The capacity view provides an account of evidence that does justice to these two facts. It shows in virtue of what illusions and hallucinations mislead us and prompt us to act. Moreover, (...) it shows in virtue of what we are in a better epistemic position when we perceive than when we hallucination. In this paper, I develop the capacity view, that is, the view that perceptual experience has epistemic force in virtue of the epistemic and metaphysical primacy of the perceptual capacities employed in perception. By grounding the epistemic force of experience in facts about the metaphysical structure of experience, the capacity view is not only an externalist view, but moreover a naturalistic view of the epistemology of perceptual experience. So it is an externalist and naturalistic alternative to reliabilism. I discuss the repercussions of this view for the justification of beliefs and the epistemic transparency of mental states, as well as, familiar problem cases. (shrink)
Feldman proposed a solution to the speckled hen problem via ‘phenomenal concepts’, a solution which Fumerton accepted with reservation. Notwithstanding the existing criticisms of Feldman as being over-intellectualist, I argue that his approach fails for other reasons.
Perceptual Dogmatism holds that if it perceptually seems to S that p, then S has immediate prima facie justification for the belief that p. Various philosophers have made the notion of a perceptual seeming more precise by distinguishing perceptual seemings from both sensations and beliefs to accommodate a) the epistemic difference between perceptual judgments of novices and experts, and, b) the problem of the speckled hen. Using somewhat different terminology, perceptual seemings are supposed to be high-level percepts instead of low-level (...) sensations. I argue that although it is right that perceptual seemings should not be identified with sensations, they should also not be identified with percepts. There is no strong reason to assume that sensations and percepts exist as separate conscious states, and it appears therefore best to identify perceptual seemings simply with perceptual experiences interpreted as entities incorporating aspects from both sensations and percepts. However, even with this plausible identification in hand, the speckled hen will remain problematic for PD. (shrink)
In its original context, the “problem of the speckled hen” was a challenge to classical foundationalists who held that introspective beliefs about experience enjoy infallible foundational justification. Ernest Sosa has led a revival of interest in the problem, using it to object to neo-classical foundationalists and to motivate his own reliabilist theory of introspective justification. His discussion has spawned replies from those who claim that there are viable non-reliabilist solutions to the problem. I argue that these alternative proposals in the (...) literature are unsuccessful. I end, though, with an objection to Sosa’s theory. Along the way I also consider what the speckled hen and related examples have to teach about the fineness of grain of experience. (shrink)
Conceptualism is the thesis that, for any perceptual experience E, (i) E has a Fregean proposition as its content and (ii) a subject of E must possess a concept for each item represented by E. We advance a framework within which conceptualism may be defended against its most serious objections (e.g., Richard Heck's argument from nonveridical experience). The framework is of independent interest for the philosophy of mind and epistemology given its implications for debates regarding transparency, relationalism and representationalism, demonstrative (...) thought, phenomenal character, and the speckled hen objection to modest foundationalism. (shrink)
Many epistemologists accept some version of the following foundationalist epistemic principle: if one has an experience as if p then one has prima facie justification that p. I argue that this principle faces a challenge that it inherits from classical foundationalism: the problem of the speckled hen. The crux of the problem is that some properties are presented in experience at a level of determinacy that outstrips our recognitional capacities. I argue for an amendment to the principle that adds to (...) its antecedent the requirement that the subject have a recognitional capacity with respect to the given property. (shrink)
We can see a number of entities without seeing a determinate number of entities. For example, when we see the speckled hen, we do not see it as having a determinate number of speckles, although we do see it as having a lot of speckles. How is this possible? I suggest a contextualist answer that differs both from Michael Tye's and from Fred Dretske's.
We owe the problem of the speckled hen to Gilbert Ryle. It was suggested to A.J. Ayer by Ryle in connection with Ayer’s account of seeing. Suppose that you are standing before a speckled hen with your eyes trained on it. You are in good light and nothing is obstructing your view. You see the hen in a single glance. The hen has 47 speckles on its facing side, let us say, and the hen ap pears speckled to you. On (...) Ayer’s view, in seeing the hen, you directly see a speckled sense-datum or appearance. Ryle wondered how many speckles there are on the sense-datum. After all, intu itively, the hen does not appear to you to have 47 speckles. And if this is the case, then it does not present to you an appearance with 47 speckles. Equally, however, the hen does not appear to you not to have 47 speckles. So, it does not present an appearance that lacks 47 speckles either. (shrink)
Remodel[l]ing Reality is an inquiry into Wittgenstein's notion of übersichtliche Darstellung and the phenomenon of installation in visual art. In a sense, both provide a perspicuous overview of a particular part of our complex world, but the nature of the overview differs. Although both generate knowledge, philosophy via the übersichtliche Darstellung gives us a view of how things stand for us, while the installation shows an unexpected, exiting point of view. The obvious we tend to forget and the ambiguity of (...) reality are related to each other in a dynamic way. It is in this reflexive dynamics that we constantly remodel our reality. Tools we use are our creative abilities and our powers of imagination. In our choices and solutions we show which aspects of reality we find important and how we communicate these values. The outcome of this investigation is a new perspective on the art of installation and a new insight in Wittgenstein's notion of übersichtliche Darstellung. Because of this combination, the book is itself an artwork: an InstallationPackage. The book is distributed by Ideabooks Amsterdam, Isbn 978 90 804240 3 6. Remodel[l]ing Reality is included in Special Collections, Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam. (shrink)
This paper responds to Ernest Sosa's recent criticism of Richard Fumerton's acquaintance theory. Sosa argues that Fumerton's account of non-inferential justification falls prey to the problem of the speckled hen. I argue that Sosa's criticisms are both illuminating and interesting but that Fumerton's theory can escape the problem of the speckled hen. More generally, the paper shows that an internalist account of non-inferential justification can survive the powerful objections of the Sellarsian dilemma and the problem of the speckled hen.
Ever since Plato it has been thought that one knows only if one's belief hits the mark of truth and does so with adequate justification. The issues debated by Laurence BonJour and Ernest Sosa concern mostly the nature and conditions of such epistemic justification, and its place in our understanding of human knowledge. Presents central issues pertaining to internalism vs. externalism and foundationalism vs. virtue epistemology in the form of a philosophical debate. Introduces students to fundamental questions within epistemology while (...) engaging in contemporary debates. Written by two of today’s foremost epistemologists. Includes an extensive bibliography. (shrink)
We argue that there is a interesting connection between the old problem of the Speckled Hen and an argument that can be traced from Russell to Armstrong to Putnam that we call the “gradation argument.” Both arguments have been used to show that there is no “Highest Common Factor” between appearances we judge the same – no such thing as “real” sensations. But, we argue, both only impugn the assumption of epistemic certainty regarding introspective reports.
The Problem of the Speckled Hen is a potential stumbling-block for any philosophical treatment of perceptual certainty. Roderick Chisholm argues in the third edition of his Theory of Knowledge (Prentice Hall, 1989) that the Speckled Hen is not a problem for the account of the perceptually certain contained in that book. In this note, I argue that Chisholm’s defense of his account does not work.
Philosophers in the tradition of Berkeley say that the first step in gaining knowledge from perception is to report or describe one's perceptual data, or that which one sees ‘immediately'. Further, perceptual data are existing things of some sort, and always are exactly as they appear to be since, as H. H. Price says, “in the sphere of the given … what seems, is”. However, these two claims about perceptual data are sometimes incompatible, as the following case shows. Suppose a (...) man looking at a speckled hen reports that it has many speckles but is not able to report the exact number of speckles it has. If above is correct, the man's perceptual datum, as opposed to the physical hen itself which he sees—according to Berkeleians—in a merely indirect sense, would have to be indeterminate in character. Yet we assume that everything which exists ) is and has to be completely determinate. A person's knowledge is indeterminate if he knows that the planet Mars has either two or three satellites and doesn't know which. But Mars itself at any moment has to have some definite number of satellites. (shrink)