Philosophia 50 (1):361-368 (2022)

Julie Wulfemeyer
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Chastain and Sawyer, among others, claim that direct cognitive relations can be initiated in evidence cases. Direct cognitive relations will here include Chastain’s knowledge-of and Sawyer’s trace-based acquaintance, as well as related notions such as having-in-mind and singular thought. Against this controversial claim, it is often objected that such cases are better understood as cases of inference rather than cases of direct thought. When one detects something by its footprint, the objection goes, one merely infers that it exists rather than thinking of it directly. The goal of this paper is to analyze what is meant by the inference objection and consider several possible responses to it. Ultimately, I will not offer a knock-down argument against the inference explanation; in fact, I’ll try to explain why I suspect one isn’t possible. Instead, I’ll appeal to the possibility of misdescription and analogous cases involving non-human animals to show that the inference explanation is less plausible than the account to which it provides an alternative.
Keywords inference  having in mind  evidence cases  singular thought  acquaintance
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-021-00375-x
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