Synthese 198 (7):6111-6138 (2019)

Authors
Michael Barkasi
Rice University (PhD)
Abstract
Starting with Gareth Evans, there’s an important tradition of theorizing about perception-based demonstrative thought which assigns necessary epistemic conditions to it. Its core idea is that demonstrative reference in thought is grounded in information links, understood as links which carry reliable information about their targets and which a subject exploits for demonstrative reference by tokening the mental files fed by these links. Perception, on these views, is not fundamental to perception-based demonstrative thought but is only the information link exploited in these cases. Evans himself assigns a further epistemic condition, while more recently Imogen Dickie has expanded the reliability requirement into a more complex account centered around justification. In this paper I synthesize three central proponents of this approach and show that the epistemic conditions they place on perception-based demonstrative thought are not actually required. My argument gives two examples in which there is perceptual contact with an object but this perceptual contact fails to do the epistemic work in question. The first case is stimulus-incorporating dream experiences, the second involves multimodal binding failures. I argue that this perceptual contact still affords demonstrative thought in these cases.
Keywords demonstrative thought  mental files  information links  dreams  multimodal binding  justification  Gareth Evans
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Reprint years 2021
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02453-w
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