When philosophers speak of direct perceptual knowledge, they obviously mean to suggest that such knowledge is unmediated ? but unmediated by what? This is where we find evidence of violent disagreement. To clarify matters, I want to identify and briefly describe several important senses of "direct" that have helped shape our understanding of perceptual knowledge. They are (1) "Direct" as Non-Inferential Perception; (2) "Direct" as Unmediating by Objects of Perception; (3) "Direct" as Conceptually Unmediated Perception; (4) "Direct" as Independent Verification (...) of Perceptual Beliefs; and (5) "Direct" as Perception of What is Epistemically Prior. (shrink)
Once a name to conjure with, Scottish idealist James Frederick Ferrier (1808–1864) is now a largely forgotten figure, notwithstanding the fact that he penned a work of remarkable power and originality: the Institutes of Metaphysic (1854). In ‘Reid and the Philosophy and Common Sense,’ an essay of 1847 which anticipates some of the central themes of the Institutes of Metaphysic, Ferrier presents an excoriating critique of Thomas Reid's brand of common sense realism. Understanding Ferrier's critique of Reid – its content, (...) motivations, and significance – is the task of the present essay. (shrink)
If truth were a matter of correspondence with the facts, then S could justify her empirical beliefs only by directly comparing them with a denuded and unconceptualized reality and confirming that the relation of correspondence obtains.
In this essay, I focus exclusively on an ill-understood Schopenhauerian objection to realism, which I call the Inconceivability Argument. The received scholarly view of Schopenhauer’s supposedly conclusive disproof of realism is that it is nothing but a simple and familiar fallacy. I disagree; and in this paper I develop three ways of understanding the Inconceivability Argument, according to which Schopenhauer’s reductio is not an insubstantial and worthless sophism but a solid construction in which some valuable philosophical insights are embedded.
Consider the following proposition: It is possible that all of our perceptual experiences are ‘delusive.’ According to Gilbert Ryle, is demonstrably absurd. In this paper I address four questions: What is Ryle’s argument against?; How persuasive is it?; What positions are ruled out if is absurd?; and How does Ryle’s position compare with contemporary work on skepticism?
Drawing inspiration from Wittgenstein’s dictum that “[t]he philosopher’s treatment of a question is like the treatment of an illness”, a number of prominent contemporary philosophers have stopped trying to refute skepticism and have instead sought to cure us of it. A similar passion for Wittgensteinian therapy animates Michael Hymers’ ambitious Philosophy and its Epistemic Neuroses. The book falls into three parts: the first aspires to debunk skepticism; the second dissects relativism; and the third is devoted to the topic of self-knowledge.
Douglas McDermid presents a study of the remarkable flourishing of Scottish philosophy from the 18th to the mid-19th century. He examines how Kames, Reid, Stewart, Hamilton, and Ferrier gave illuminating treatments of the central philosophical problem of the existence of a material world independently of perception and thought.
In Mind, Language, and Society: Philosophy in the Real World, John Searle presents an uncompromising apologia for realism which is distinguished both by its lucidity and by its vigour. His basic strategy is to show that realists have at their disposal the resources needed to refute skeptics who allege that a mind-independent world is unknowable. In this paper, I reconstruct Searle´s principal pro-realist argument , then argue that it is vitiated by its reliance on two unwarranted assumptions . First, however, (...) I summarize the position— “external realism”—Searle defends. (shrink)
What could Arthur Schopenhauer, the German pessimist and speculative metaphysician of the irrational will, possibly have in common with Thomas Reid, the staid and pious apostle of common sense? Unlike their contemporaries, both philosophers distinguished carefully between sensation and perception. In this essay I examine their respective formulations of the sensation / perception distinction, and I attempt to explain where they agree and where they diverge. Such an examination seems long overdue, for no-one – to the best of my knowledge (...) – has bothered to compare their views on this subject. (shrink)
In this important new book, Douglas McDermid argues persuasively for two key claims: first, that the so-called "Neo-Pragmatist" critique of traditional epistemology is thoroughly unconvincing; second, that Rorty is guilty of taking the name of Pragmatism in vain, since there are crucial and far-reaching differences between Neo-Pragmatism and the Classical Pragmatism of James and Dewey. The Varieties of Pragmatism will take its place in the forefront of the literature on this most vital part of the American philosophical legacy.
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