A Defense of Locke and The Representative Theory of Perception

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (sup1):101-120 (1978)
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Abstract

This paper is a defense of the “representative theory of perception” in general, and Locke's views about perception in particular. It is intended only as a limited defense, but one against those objections which recently have been taken thoroughly to discredit both the general theory and Locke's particular position. The chief of these objections is that the representative theory leads inevitably to skepticism about the existence of objective material things. George Pitcher finds this objection to the representative theory completely persuasive and so well established that it scarcely requires discussion:It is just here [in the area of justifying perceptual knowledge of the world] that the most serious and notorious deficiencies of sense-datum theories are encountered. If the sense-datum theorist maintains the existence of physical objects, … as ordinarily conceived, then his claim that sense-data are metaphysically distinct from anything in the physical world commits him to a version of representative realism. The enormous epistemological difficulties [due to their skeptical consequences] faced by theories of this kind are well known, and I shall not say anything about them, except that I regard them as insuperable ….

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References found in this work

Locke’s Philosophy of Science and Knowledge.R. S. Woolhouse - 1971 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 162:214-214.
What Is an Epistemological Problem?John L. Pollock - 1968 - American Philosophical Quarterly 5 (3):183 - 190.
Are mental attributes attributes of the body?Alfred C. Ewing - 1945 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 45:27-58.

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