Austin on Perception

Review of Metaphysics 17 (4):557-567 (1964)

It is Austin's view that there is no single answer to the question of what we are doing when we are perceiving. In some cases of perceiving, such as hearing, Austin thinks that it is legitimate to speak of ourselves as making inferences based on evidence and, therefore, as possibly making mistakes. In other cases of perceiving, however, such ways of speaking would be illegitimate. When we can be said to see something right in front of our noses, it is meaningless to ask for our evidence, or to speak of ourselves as making inferences, or to think that we might be making mistakes. As Austin puts it, "But how absurd it is, really, to suggest that I am giving a verdict when I say what is going on under my nose!" To speak in such a manner would be, according to this view, to admit that "there is no such thing as being an eyewitness of what goes on in the 'material world'...."
Keywords Epistemology  Inference  Perception  Austin
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DOI revmetaph196417498
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