According to a traditional Cartesian epistemology of perception, perception does not provide one with direct knowledge of the external world. Instead, your immediate perceptual evidence is limited to facts about your own visual experience, from which conclusions about the external world must be inferred. Cartesianism faces well-known skeptical challenges. But this chapter argues that any anti-Cartesian view strong enough to avoid these challenges must license a way of updating one’s beliefs in response to anticipated experiences that seems diachronically irrational. (...) To avoid this result, the anti-Cartesian must either license an unacceptable epistemic chauvinism, or else claim that merely reflecting on one’s experiences defeats perceptualjustification. This leaves us with a puzzle: Although Cartesianism faces problems, avoiding them brings a new set of problems. (shrink)
Two different versions of epistemological disjunctivism have recently been upheld in the literature: a traditional, Justified True Belief Epistemological Disjunctivism (JTBED) and a Knowledge First Epistemological Disjunctivism (KFED). JTBED holds that factive reasons of the form “S sees that p” provide the rational support in virtue of which one has perceptual knowledge, while KFED holds that factive reasons of the form “S sees that p” just are ways of knowing that p which additionally provide justification for believing that (...) p. We argue that both accounts remain ultimately unsatisfactory. JTBED faces two formidable problems: first, it cannot account for animal knowledge, and, second, it does not offer a satisfactory account of how we access factive reasons. Although KFED can solve these two problems, it has some problems of its own. While intuitively knowledge is logically stronger than justified belief, on KFED it turns out to be weaker: knowledge does not entail justified belief, but justified belief does entail knowledge. Nevertheless, disjunctivists are right on at least a couple of points: we standardly justify our perceptual beliefs by appealing to factive reasons such as seeing that p and so factive reasons ought to play some role in our theory of justification. In addition, KFED’s account of our access to factive reasons also is spot on. Rather than going disjunctivist, these insights can be suitably incorporated into a Knowledge First Virtue Epistemology (KFVE). (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it's possible that the contents of some visual experiences are influenced by the subject's prior beliefs, hopes, suspicions, desires, fears or other mental states, and that this possibility places constraints on the theory of perceptualjustification that 'dogmatism' or 'phenomenal conservativism' cannot respect.
Perceptual experiences justify beliefs. A perceptual experience of a dog justifies the belief that there is a dog present. But there is much evidence that perceptual states can occur without being conscious, as in experiments involving masked priming. Do unconscious perceptual states provide justification as well? The answer depends on one’s theory of justification. While most varieties of externalism seem compatible with unconscious perceptualjustification, several theories have recently afforded to consciousness a (...) special role in perceptualjustification. We argue that such views face a dilemma: either consciousness should be understood in functionalist terms, in which case our best current theories of consciousness do not seem to imbue consciousness with any special epistemic features, or it should not, in which case it is mysterious why only conscious states are justificatory. We conclude that unconscious perceptualjustification is quite plausible. (shrink)
Imagine I hold up a Granny Smith apple for all to see. You would thereby gain justified beliefs that it was green, that it was apple, and that it is a Granny Smith apple. Under classical foundationalism, such simple visual beliefs are mediately justified on the basis of reasons concerning your experience. Under dogmatism, some or all of these beliefs are justified immediately by your experience and not by reasons you possess. This paper argues for what I call the looks (...) view of the justification of simple visual beliefs. According to the looks view, such beliefs are mediately justified on the basis of reasons concerning how the relevant things look. Unlike under classical foundationalism, under the looks view as I develop it, these reasons are public. They are public with respect to both their content and possession: with respect to content, they are not about ourselves and our experiences, and with respect to their possession, many people can have the very same looks-related reasons. (shrink)
As I use the term, ‘entitlement’ is any warrant one has by default—i.e. without acquiring it. Some philosophers not only affirm the existence of entitlement, but also give it a crucial role in the justification of our perceptual beliefs. These philosophers affirm the Entitlement Thesis: An essential part of what makes our perceptual beliefs justified is our entitlement to the proposition that I am not a brain-in-a-vat. Crispin Wright, Stewart Cohen, and Roger White are among those who (...) endorse this controversial claim. In this paper, I argue that the Entitlement Thesis is false. (shrink)
In at least some cases of justified perceptual belief, our perceptual experience itself, as opposed to beliefs about it, evidences and thereby justifies our belief. While the phenomenon is common, it is also mysterious. There are good reasons to think that perceptions cannot justify beliefs directly, and there is a significant challenge in explaining how they do. After explaining just how direct perceptualjustification is mysterious, I considerMichael Huemers (Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, 2001) and (...) Bill Brewers (Perception and Reason, 1999) recent, but radically different, attempts to eliminate it. I argue that both are unsuccessful, though a consideration of their mistakes deepens our appreciation of the mystery. (shrink)
This paper argues that there is a problem for the justificatory significance of perceptions that has been overlooked thus far. Assuming that perceptual experiences are propositional attitudes and that only propositional attitudes which assertively represent the world can function as justifiers, the problem consists in specifying what it means for a propositional attitude to assertively represent the world without losing the justificatory significance of perceptions—a challenge that is harder to meet than might first be thought. That there is such (...) a problem can be seen by reconsidering and modifying a well-known argument to the conclusion that beliefs cannot be justified by perceptions but only by other beliefs. Nevertheless, the aim of the paper is not to conclude that perceptions are actually incapable of justifying our beliefs but rather to highlight an overlooked problem that needs to be solved in order to properly understand the justificatory relationship between perceptions and beliefs. (shrink)
What kind of content must visual states have if they are to offer direct justification for our external world beliefs? How must they present that content if the degree of justification they provide is to reflect the nuance of our changing visual experiences? This paper offers an argument for the view that visual states comprise not only a content, but a confidence relation to that content. This confidence relation lets us explain how visual states can offer noninferential (...) class='Hi'>perceptualjustification of differing degrees for external world beliefs. These confidence relations let visual states justify beliefs in a way that is sensitive to subtle differences in the character of our visual experiences, while still allowing that visual states give us direct access to the external world in virtue of their content. (shrink)
In his paper “There It Is” and his précis “There It Was,” Benj Hellie develops a sophisticated semantics for perceptualjustification according to which perceptions in good cases can be explained by intentional psychology and can justify beliefs, whereas bad cases of perception are defective and so cannot justify beliefs. Importantly, Hellie also affords consciousness a central role in rationality insofar as only those good cases of perception within consciousness can play a justificatory function. In this commentary, I (...) reserve judgment regarding Hellie’s treatment of the rational difference between good and bad cases, but I argue there can be what he views as good cases of perceptualjustification outside of consciousness. (shrink)
Crispin Wright has advanced a number of arguments to show that, in addition to evidential warrant, we have a species of non-evidential warrant, namely, “entitlement”, which forms the basis of a particular view of the architecture of perceptualjustification known as “epistemic conservatism”. It is widely known, however, that Wright's conservative view is beset by a number of problems. In this article, I shall argue that the kind of warrant that emerges from Wright's account is not the standard (...) truth-conducive justification, but what is known as the deontological conception of justification. It will be argued that the deontological justification has features that make it a better candidate for representing a conservative architecture. These results will be reinforced by showing how the deontological framework can make better sense of a recent theory of justified belief that takes its inspiration from Wright's conservative account. Thus understood, we may see the liberalism–conservatism controversy as actually an extension of the older debate over which conception of justification, truth-conducive or deontological, can best represent the epistemic status of our belief-forming practices. (shrink)
Several philosophers have distinguished between three distinct mental states that play a role in visual recognition: experiences, propositional seemings, and beliefs. I clarify and offer some reasons for drawing this three-fold distinction, and I consider its epistemological implications. Some philosophers have held that propositional seemings always confer prima facie justification, regardless of a particular seeming's relation to experience. I add to criticisms of this view in the literature by arguing that it fails to solve a version of the ‘problem (...) of the speckled hen’. A more promising view holds that propositional seemings confer justification only when appropriately related to experiences. I offer advice for developing such an account. (shrink)
How can experience provide knowledge, or even justified belief, about the objective world outside our minds? This volume presents original essays by prominent contemporary epistemologists, who show how philosophical progress on foundational issues can improve our understanding of, and suggest a solution to, this famous sceptical question.
As an important view in the epistemology of perception, dogmatism proposes that for any experience, if it has a distinctive kind of phenomenal character, then it thereby provides us with immediate justification for beliefs about the external world. This paper rejects dogmatism by looking into the epistemology of imagining. In particular, this paper first appeals to some empirical studies on perceptual experiences and imaginings to show that it is possible for imaginings to have the distinctive phenomenal character dogmatists (...) have in mind. Then this paper argues that some of these imaginings fail to provide us with immediate justification for beliefs about the external world at least partly due to their inappropriate etiology. Such imaginings constitute counterexamples to dogmatism. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences justify. When I look at the black laptop in front of me and my perceptual experience presents me with a black laptop placed on my desk, my perceptual experience has justificatory force with respect to the proposition that there is black laptop on the desk. The present paper addresses the question of why perceptual experiences are a source of immediate justification: What gives them their justificatory force? I shall argue that the most plausible (...) and the most straightforward answer to this question consists in what I call the phenomenological conception of perceptualjustification. Perceptual experiences justify by virtue of their distinctive presentive phenomenology. This is a truly internalist conception that enjoys significant advantages over rival conceptions. In the course of his paper, I demonstrate the advantages of the phenomenological conception and defend it against a recent objection. (shrink)
According to Alan Millar, justified beliefs are well-founded beliefs. Millar cashes out the notion of well-foundedness in terms of having an adequate reason to believe something and believing it for that reason. To make his account of justified belief compatible with perceptualjustification he appeals to the notion of recognitional ability. It is argued that, due to the fact that Millar’s is a knowledge-first view, his appeal to recognitional abilities fails to offer an explanatory account of familiar cases (...) in the literature and, as a consequence, of the notion of perceptualjustification. (shrink)
It seems uncontroversial that perceptual experiences provide us with some “normative support” for beliefs or judgments about our surroundings. Provided that the normative force of perceptualjustification is something that manifests itself in consciousness or something we commonly experience, what are its phenomenal features? To put it differently: What is it to experience the normative force of perceptualjustification? In the first section I will briefly comment on the demand of a unified theory of (...) class='Hi'>perceptual experiences, viz. a theory which is capable of integrating relevant epistemological and phenomenological aspects of perceptual experiences. In section two I will argue for a way of connecting the epistemological problem and the phenomenological problem by appealing to a compare-and-contrast strategy. Eventually, in section three, I will try to draw some lessons for our understanding of the normative force of perceptualjustification. (shrink)
This book provides an accessible and up-to-date discussion of contemporary theories of perceptualjustification that each highlight different factors related to perception, i.e., conscious experience, higher-order beliefs, and reliable processes. The book’s discussion starts from the viewpoint that perception is not only one of our fundamental sources of knowledge and justification, but also plays this role for many less sophisticated animals. It proposes a scientifically informed reliabilist theory which can accommodate this fact without denying that some of (...) our epistemic abilities as human perceivers are special. This allows it to combine many of our intuitions about the importance of conscious experience and higher-order belief with the controversial thesis that perceptualjustification is fundamentally non-evidential in character. (shrink)
James Van Cleve raises some objections to my attempt to solve the bootstrapping problem for what I call “basic justification theories.” I argue that given 1 the inference rules endorsed by basic justification theorists, we are a priori (propositionally) justified in believing that perception is reliable. This blocks the bootstrapping result.
Although it is widely recognized that perceptual experience confers justification on the beliefs it gives rise to, it is unclear how its epistemic value should be properly characterized. Liberals hold, and conservatives deny, that the justification conditions of perceptual beliefs merely involve experiences with the same content. The recent debate on this question has, however, seen further fragmentations of the positions involved with the disputants seeking to identify intermediate positions between liberalism and conservatism. In this paper, (...) I suggest a framework to account for the differences and similarities of the positions within the liberalism/conservatism debate. More importantly, I suggest that, instead of focusing on one particular species of conservatism, we should recognize varieties of conservatism. My conclusion is that no theory of justification need be conservative or liberal tout court. Whether a theory of justification is liberal or conservative depends on which dimension of evaluation is taken to be salient. The implications of this finding for the liberalism/conservatism debate are then investigated. (shrink)
According to the recent Perceptual Confidence view, perceptual experiences possess not only a representational content, but also a degree of confidence in that content. The motivations for this view are partly phenomenological and partly epistemic. We discuss both the phenomenological and epistemic motivations for the view, and the resulting account of the interface between perceptual experiences and degrees of belief. We conclude that, in their present state of development, orthodox accounts of perceptual experience are still to (...) be favoured over the perceptual confidence view. (shrink)
First impressions suggest the following contrast between perception and memory: perception generates new beliefs and reasons, justification, or evidence for those beliefs; memory preserves old beliefs and reasons, justification, or evidence for those beliefs. In this paper, I argue that reflection on perceptual learning gives us reason to adopt an alternative picture on which perception plays both generative and preservative epistemic roles.
This paper investigates the justification of certain beliefs central to scientific realism. Some have claimed that the underdetermination of a theory by empirical evidence implies that belief in the truth of the theory and in the existence of the corresponding unobservable entities is unjustified. It is argued that the justification of certain realist beliefs is similar to the justification of our perceptual beliefs. Neither are justified by argument from more basic beliefs, and their underdetermination by the (...) evidence does not affect their justification. (shrink)
It is often argued that for a perceptual experience to be able to justify perceptual judgments, the perceptual experience must have a propositional content. For, it is claimed, only propositions can bear logical relations such as implication to each other. In this paper, this claim is challenged. It is argued that whereas perceptions and judgments both have intentional content, their contents have different structures. Perceptual content does not have a propositional structure. Perceptions and judgments can nevertheless (...) have the same cognitive significance. So the veridicality of a certain perceptual experience, can imply the truth of certain propositions. Consequently, perceptions can have non-propositional content, but even so justify perceptual judgments which have a propositional structure. (shrink)
Can perceptual experiences be states of uncertainty? We might expect them to be, if the perceptual processes from which they're generated, as well as the behaviors they help produce, take account of probabilistic information. Yet it has long been presumed that perceptual experiences purport to tell us about our environment, without hedging or qualifying. Against this long-standing view, I argue that perceptual experiences may well occasionally be states of uncertainty, but that they are never probabilistically structured. (...) I criticize a powerful line of reasoning that we should expect perceptual experience to be probabilistic, given their interfaces with unconscious probabilistic information, with behavior responsive to it, and with credences. (shrink)
There is much to like about the idea that justification should be understood in terms of normality or normic support (Smith 2016, Goodman and Salow 2018). The view does a nice job explaining why we should think that lottery beliefs differ in justificatory status from mundane perceptual or testimonial beliefs. And it seems to do that in a way that is friendly to a broadly internalist approach to justification. In spite of its attractions, we think that the (...) normic support view faces two serious challenges. The first is that it delivers the wrong result in preface cases. These cases suggest that the view is either too sceptical or too externalist. The second is that the view struggles with certain kinds of Moorean absurdities. It turns out that these problems can easily be avoided. If we think of normality as a condition on *knowledge*, we can characterise justification in terms of its connection to knowledge and thereby avoid the difficulties discussed here. The resulting view does an equally good job explaining why we should think that our perceptual and testimonial beliefs are justified when lottery beliefs cannot be. Thus, it seems that little could be lost and much could be gained by revising the proposal and adopting a view on which it is knowledge, not justification, that depends directly upon normality. (shrink)
In the recent metaethical literature there has been significant interest in the prospects for what I am denoting ‘Perceptual Intuitionism’: the view that normal ethical agents can and do have non-inferential justification for first-order ethical beliefs by having ethical perceptual experiences, e.g., Cullison 2010, McBrayer 2010, Vayrynen 2008. If true, it promises to constitute an independent a posteriori intuitionist epistemology, providing an alternative to intuitionist accounts which posit a priori intuition and/or emotion as sources of non-inferentially justified (...) ethical beliefs. As it is formulated, it is plausible that a necessary condition for the view is the truth of Ethical Perception: normal ethical agents can and do have perceptual experiences as of the instantiation of ethical properties. In this paper a sophisticated and promising account of Ethical Perception is offered. Extant objections are shown to fail. However, it will be argued that it is far from obvious that the account of Perceptual Intuitionism which emerges constitutes an independent alternative to other intuitionist accounts. This is because we have reason to think that ethical perceptual experience may be epistemically dependent on other epistemic sources, e.g. a priori intuition or emotion. (shrink)
Perceptual Dogmatism holds that if it perceptually seems to S that p, then S has immediate prima facie justification for the belief that p. Various philosophers have made the notion of a perceptual seeming more precise by distinguishing perceptual seemings from both sensations and beliefs to accommodate a) the epistemic difference between perceptual judgments of novices and experts, and, b) the problem of the speckled hen. Using somewhat different terminology, perceptual seemings are supposed to (...) be high-level percepts instead of low-level sensations. I argue that although it is right that perceptual seemings should not be identified with sensations, they should also not be identified with percepts. There is no strong reason to assume that sensations and percepts exist as separate conscious states, and it appears therefore best to identify perceptual seemings simply with perceptual experiences interpreted as entities incorporating aspects from both sensations and percepts. However, even with this plausible identification in hand, the speckled hen will remain problematic for PD. (shrink)
Visual perception relies on stored information and environmental associations to arrive at a determinate representation of the world. This opens up the disturbing possibility that our visual experiences could themselves be subject to a kind of racial bias, simply in virtue of accurately encoding previously encountered environmental regularities. This possibility raises the following question: what, if anything, is wrong with beliefs grounded upon these prejudicial experiences? They are consistent with a range of epistemic norms, including evidentialist and reliabilist standards for (...)justification. I argue that we will struggle to locate a flaw with these sorts of perceptual beliefs so long as we focus our analysis at the level of the individual and her response to information. We should instead broaden our analysis to include the social structure within which the individual is located. Doing so lets us identify a problem with the way in which unjust social structures in particular “gerrymander” the regularities an individual is exposed to, and by extension the priors their visual system draws on. I argue that in this way, social structures can cap perceptual skill. (shrink)
The “looks” of things are frequently invoked (a) to account for the epistemic status of perceptual beliefs and (b) to distinguish perceptual from inferential beliefs. ‘Looks’ for these purposes is normally understood in terms of a perceptual experience and its phenomenal character. Here I argue that there is also a nonexperiential sense of ‘looks’—one that relates to cognitive architecture, rather than phenomenology—and that this nonexperiential sense can do the work of (a) and (b).
According to Perceptual Fundamentalism we can have justified perceptual beliefs solely in virtue of having perceptual experiences with corresponding contents. Recently, it has been argued that Perceptual Fundamentalism entails that it is possible to gain an a priori justified belief that perception is reliable by engaging in a suppositional reasoning process of a priori bootstrapping. But I will show that Perceptual Fundamentalists are not committed to a priori bootstrapping being a rational reasoning process. On the (...) most plausible versions of Perceptual Fundamentalism, a priori bootstrapping cannot be used to rationally support anti-sceptical beliefs about the reliability of perception. Moreover, seeing why Perceptual Fundamentalists are not committed to a priori bootstrapping will help us to better understand the nature of the perceptual entitlements that Perceptual Fundamentalists posit, or at least should posit. (shrink)
What is the epistemological value of perceptual experience? In his recently influential paper, “The Skeptic and the Dogmatist”1, James Pryor develops a seemingly plausible answer to this question. Pryor’s answer comprises the following three theses: (F) “Our perceptualjustification for beliefs about our surroundings is always defeasible – there are always possible improvements in our epistemic state which would no longer support those beliefs.” (517) (PK) “This justification that you get merely by having an experience as (...) of p can sometimes suffice to give you knowledge that p is the case.” (520) (D) “When it perceptually seems to you as if p is the case, you have a kind of justification for believing p that does not presuppose or rest on your justification for anything else, which could be cited in argument (even an ampliative argument) for p. To have this justification for believing p, you need only have an experience that represents p as being the case. No further awareness or reflection or background beliefs are required.” (519) Let’s use the phrase “fallibilist dogmatism” to refer to the conjunction of (F), (PK), and (D).2 Pryor does not argue for either (F) or (PK) in his paper; he simply shares the widespread and plausible assumption that (F) and (PK) are both true. But the conjunction of (F) and (PK) implies that we can have knowledge on the basis of defeasible justification. And this view leads to paradox. Consider the following individually plausible but jointly incompatible statements. (shrink)
Perceptual appearances of personality can be highly inaccurate, for example, when they rely on race, masculinity, and attractiveness, factors that have little to do with personality, as well as when they are the result of perceiver effects, such as an idiosyncratic tendency to view others negatively. This raises the question of whether these types of appearances can provide immediate justification for our judgments about personality. I argue that there are three reasons that we should think that they can. (...) The inaccuracy of these types of appearances is not nearly as widespread as it may initially seem. Even thin-slicing in zero-acquaintance conditions seems to reliably track many personality traits. The thought that perceptual appearances of personality can justify our beliefs only in conjunction with background information rests on a failure to acknowledge the existence of genuine high-level perceptual appearances of personality. Perceiver effect cases are not unlike cases in which we have inaccurate low-level perceptual appearances in unfavorable perceptual conditions. (shrink)
There are three well-known models of how to account for perceptual belief within a probabilistic framework: (a) a Cartesian model; (b) a model advocated by Timothy Williamson; and (c) a model advocated by Richard Jeffrey. Each of these models faces a problem—in effect, the problem of accounting for the defeasibility of perceptualjustification and perceptual knowledge. It is argued here that the best way of responding to this the best way of responding to this problem effectively (...) vindicates the Cartesian model. Finally, it is argued that, given the best interpretation of the probabilistic framework, that the Cartesian model is not vulnerable to the main criticisms that have been raised against it. (shrink)
Commonsense epistemology regards perceptual experience as a distinctive source of knowledge of the world around us, unavailable in ‘blindsight’. This is often interpreted in terms of the idea that perceptual experience, through its representational content, provides us with justifying reasons for beliefs about the world around us. I argue that this analysis distorts the explanatory link between perceptual experience and knowledge, as we ordinarily conceive it. I propose an alternative analysis, on which representational content plays no explanatory (...) role: we make perceptual knowledge intelligible by appeal to experienced objects and features. I also present an account of how the commonsense scheme, thus interpreted, is to be defended: not by tracing the role of experience to its contribution in meeting some general condition on propositional knowledge (such as justification), but by subverting the assumption that it has to be possible to make the role of experience intelligible in terms of some such contribution. (shrink)
Arguments for scepticism about perceptual knowledge are often said to have intuitively plausible premises. In this discussion I question this view in relation to an argument from ignorance and argue that the supposed persuasiveness of the argument depends on debatable background assumptions about knowledge or justification. A reasonable response to scepticism has to show there is a plausible epistemological perspective that can make sense of our having perceptual knowledge. I present such a perspective. In order give a (...) more satisfying response to scepticism, we need also to consider the standing of background beliefs. This is required since the recognitional abilities that enable us to have perceptual knowledge are informed by, or presuppose, a picture or conception of the world the correctness of which we have not ascertained. The question is how, in the face of this, to make sense of responsible belief-formation. In addressing this problem I make a suggestion about the standing of certain crucial beliefs linking appearances with membership of kinds. (shrink)
The distinction between propositional and doxastic justification is the distinction between having justification to believe P (= propositional justification) versus having a justified belief in P (= doxastic justification). The focus of this paper is on doxastic justification and on what conditions are necessary for having it. In particular, I challenge the basing demand on doxastic justification, i.e., the idea that one can have a doxastically justified belief only if one’s belief is based on (...) an epistemically appropriate reason. This demand has been used to refute versions of coherentism and conservatism about perceptualjustification as well as to defend phenomenal “conservatism” and other views besides. In what follows I argue that there is virtually no reason to think there is a basing demand on doxastic justification. I also argue that even if the basing demand were true, it would still fail to serve the dialectical purposes for which it has been employed in arguments concerning coherentism, conservatism, and phenomenal “conservatism”. I conclude by discussing the fact that knowledge has a basing demand and show why this needn’t raise the same sort of problems for coherentism and conservatism that doxastic justification’s basing demand seemed to. (shrink)
Doxasticism about our awareness of normative (i.e. justifying) reasons – the view that we can recognise reasons for forming attitudes or performing actions only by means of normative judgements or beliefs – is incompatible with the following triad of claims: -/- (1) Being motivated (i.e. forming attitudes or performing actions for a motive) requires responding to and, hence, recognising a relevant reason. -/- (2) Infants are capable of being motivated. -/- (3) Infants are incapable of normative judgement or belief. -/- (...) It should be clear that (3) is true, given that infants lack the required reflective and conceptual capacities. So doxasticists have to reject either (1) or (2) (or both). But this forced choice may be understood as a dilemma for doxasticism. On the hand, doxasticists may adopt a Kantian approach and reject (2), precisely because they think that motivation presupposes the doxastic recognition of reasons, and because infants lack the capacity to doxastically recognise reasons. But this choice seems to wrongly reduce the responses of infants to mere reflexes or instinctive reactions. On the other hand, doxasticists may choose a Humean route and deny (1) by espousing a purely causal or teleological account of motivation. But this would mean detrimentally ignoring the normative nature of (some instances of) motivation. -/- One elegant way of avoiding this dilemma is to give up doxasticism and instead endorse experientialism – the view that we enjoy some experiential access to reasons, which is independent of, and perhaps more fundamental than, our capacity to form normative judgements and beliefs. In this talk, I would like to provide an argument for the existence of such a non-doxastic form of access to reasons. More specifically, I aim to defend the claim that our basic awareness of reasons is phenomenal in nature. What this means is that it forms part of our access from the inside to those of our mental episodes that provide us with access to reasons. In other words, when we introspectively attend to reason-giving mental episodes and what they are about, we have the impression of the presence of a reason for us. My defence of this experientialist alternative to doxasticism will primarily focus on perceptual reasons for first-order beliefs about the external world. (shrink)
It has been objected recently that naïve realism is inconsistent with an empirically well-supported hypothesis that unconscious perception is possible. Because epistemological disjunctivism is plausible only in conjunction with naïve realism (for a reason I provide), the objection reaches it too. In response, I show that the unconscious perception hypothesis can be changed from a problem into an advantage of epistemological disjunctivism. I do this by suggesting that: (i) naïve realism is consistent with the hypothesis; (ii) the contrast between epistemological (...) disjunctivism and epistemic externalism explains the difference in epistemic import between conscious and unconscious perception. (shrink)
The problem of other minds has a distinguished philosophical history stretching back more than two hundred years. Taken at face value, it is an epistemological question: it concerns how we can have knowledge of, or at least justified belief in, the existence of minds other than our own. In recent decades, philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists and primatologists have debated a related question: how we actually go about attributing mental states to others (regardless of whether we ever achieve knowledge or rational (...)justification in this domain). Until the mid-nineties, the latter debate – which sometimes goes under the name of the “mindreading” debate – was characterized by a fairly clear-cut opposition between two theoretical outlooks: “theory-theory” (TT) and “simulation theory” (ST). Theory-theorists typically argued that we attribute mental states to others on the basis of a “theory of mind” that is either constructed in early infancy and subsequently revised and modified (Gopnik 1996), or else is the result of maturation of innate mindreading “modules” (Baron-Cohen 1995). (shrink)