About this topic
Summary

The literature on perceptual knowledge—or, more broadly, the epistemology of perception—addresses a wide array of issues that often overlap.  Among the most prominent questions in the literature are the following: How should we account for perceptual knowledge and related notions such as perceptual evidence, justification, rationality, and entitlement?  Is any perceptual knowledge/justification immediate, or is all perceptual knowledge/justification mediated by other knowledge/justification?  Must perceptual experiences be understood as having conceptual content—or as having representational content at all—to justify perceptual beliefs?  How should the metaphysics of perception inform the epistemology of perception (or vice versa)?  How can we address skeptical threats to the status of our perceptual beliefs?  Do we have the same evidence for our perceptual beliefs in good and bad cases of perceptual experience?  More broadly, what is the relationship between the epistemic standing of our perceptual beliefs in good and bad cases?

Key works

Some central works about the nature of perceptual knowledge are Dretske(1969, 2000), Goldman (1976), McDowell (1994), Williamson (2000), Johnston (2006), and Sosa (2007).  Some central works about the nature of perceptual justification, entitlement and rationality are Pryor (2000), Huemer (2001), Burge (2003) and Wright (2004).  Important discussions of the relationship between perceptual content and the epistemology of perception include Sellars (1956), Martin (1993), Brewer (1999), Heck (2000), and Silins (2011).  Important discussions of the relationship between the metaphysics and epistemology of perception include Fumerton (1985), Martin (2006), McDowell (2008), and Sosa (2011).  Pryor (2000), Huemer (2001), and Wright (2002) rank among the most important recent discussions of perception and skepticism.  Pritchard (2012) and Schellenberg (2013) have developed accounts of the relationship between the epistemology of the good and the bad cases.

Introductions

Opie and O’Brien (2004), BonJour (2007), and Siegel and Silins (2015) provide overviews of the literature on the epistemology of perception. 

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  1. On Concepts and Ideas: Themes From G. W. Leibniz's New Essays.Lucia Oliveri - 2016 - In Christoph Kann David Hommen (ed.), Concepts and Categorization Systematic and Historical Perspectives. Münster, Germania: pp. 141-167.
    The topic of my paper is the virtual controversy between Leibniz and Lockeover concepts and ideas. At the end of the 17th century John Locke made a crucial contribution to semantics and philosophy: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The work represents a decisive turning point for the discussion about ideas and innatism. Indeed, Locke’s aim was to dismantle the Cartesian theory according to which ideas are innate in our soul. Against this onto-epistemological thesis, Locke maintains that all our knowledge starts (...)
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  2. Spinoza on Activity in Sense Perception.Valtteri Viljanen - 2014 - In José Filipe Silva & Mikko Yrjönsuuri (eds.), Active Perception in the History of Philosophy: From Plato to Modern Philosophy. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 241-254.
    There can be little disagreement about whether ideas of sense perception are, for Spinoza, to be classed as passions or actions—the former is obviously the correct answer. All this, however, does not mean that sense perception would be, for Spinoza, completely passive. In this essay I argue argues that there is in the Ethics an elaborate—and to my knowledge previously unacknowledged—line of reasoning according to which sense perception of finite things never fails to contain a definite active component. This argument (...)
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  3. On Knowing and Seeing: Groundwork for a New Empiricism[REVIEW]Mira Magdalena Sickinger - 2021 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 98 (4):495–502.
    This is a discussion note on Michael Ayers’ Knowing and Seeing. Groundwork for a New Empiricism.
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  4. The Thing Before Us. Agreement and Disagreement Between Travis and Ayers.Sofia Miguens & Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum - 2021 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 98 (4):584-599.
    In this article the authors identify and analyse points of agreement and disagreement between Michael Ayers and Charles Travis, starting from their views on ‘things before us’. The authors then try to spell out what separates these philosophers in matters concerning perception, knowledge and language. In spite of their both being self-professed realists, equally critical of conceptualism and representationalism, Ayers’ empiricism and Travis’ anti-empiricism lead them to different positions in these three areas. It is shown that in the case of (...)
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  5. Aesthetic Knowledge.Keren Gorodeisky & Eric Marcus - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-29.
    What is the source of aesthetic knowledge? Empirical knowledge, it is generally held, bottoms out in perception. Such knowledge can be transmitted to others through testimony, preserved by memory, and amplified via inference. But perception is where the rubber hits the road. What about aesthetic knowledge? Does it too bottom out in perception? Most say “yes”. But this is wrong. When it comes to aesthetic knowledge, it is appreciation, not perception, where the rubber hits the road. The ultimate source of (...)
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  6. Is Perception Essentially Perspectival? Modality in Husserlian Phenomenology.Michael Wallner - forthcoming - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis.
    Husserl famously argues that it is essential to perception to present the perceived object in perspectives. Hence, there is no—and there cannot be—perception without perspectival givenness. Yet, it seems that there are counterexamples to this essentialist claim, for we seem to be able to imagine beings that do not perceive in perspectives. Recently, there have been some accounts in the literature that critically discuss those counterexamples and assess to what extent they succeed in challenging Husserl’s essentialist claim. In this paper (...)
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  7. Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition. Volume One: Sense Perception.Juhana Toivanen (ed.) - 2022 - Brill.
    _Sense Perception_ is the first part of the trilogy _Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition_. It investigates some of the most complex and intriguing aspects of theories of perception in the Greek, Latin, and Arabic reception of Aristotle’s psychology.
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  8. Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition. Volume Three: Concept Formation.Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist & Juhana Toivanen (eds.) - 2022 - Brill.
    _Concept Formation_ is the final part of the trilogy _Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition_. It investigates some of the most perplexing and provocative discussions on conceptual thinking in the Greek, Latin, and Arabic reception of Aristotle’s psychology.
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  9. Perception, Reason, and Knowledge. [REVIEW]R. M. K. - 1973 - Review of Metaphysics 27 (2):371-371.
    The author has set out to provide an introduction to the theory of knowledge through a more "thorough study of three of its central topics." Unfortunately, he does not accomplish this for many reasons. Arner never discusses the birth of the epistemological problem that can be traced as far back as Plato, nor does he go into the implications of the problem. He chooses rather to give a superficial introduction into some of the more common problematic themes. Assuming this cursory (...)
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  10. Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception. [REVIEW]Robert A. Wilson - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (1):117-132.
    In this initially daunting but ultimately enjoyable and informative book, Mohan Matthen argues that this tradition is mistaken about both the processes of perception or sensing and the relationship between sensation, perception, and cognition. Since this tradition is sufficiently alive and well in the contemporary literature to constitute something like the received view of perception and the role of sensation in it, Matthen’s challenge and the alternative view he proposes are potentially significant. Sensory systems, Matthen thinks, are primarily devices for (...)
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  11. Replies to Marian David, Anil Gupta, and Keith Simmons.Christopher S. Hill - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (1):205-222.
    I thank the commentators for their extremely rich and stimulating discussions of Thought and World.1 Their commentaries show that a number of TW’s claims are in need of clarification and defense, and that some of its arguments contain substantial lacunae. I am very pleased to have these flaws called to my attention, and to have an opportunity to try to correct them. Also, I am grateful for the commentators’ endorsements. As is perhaps inevitable in a symposium of this kind, the (...)
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  12. Equivalence, Reliability, and Convergence: Replies to McDowell, Peacocke, and Neta.Anil Gupta - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2):490-508.
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  13. The Knowledge-As-Perception Account of Knowledge.Thomas D. Senor - 2016 - Journal of Philosophical Research 41 (9999):91-109.
    William Alston once argued that justification is not necessary for knowledge. He was convinced of this because he thought that, in cases of clear perception, one could come to know that P even if one’s justification for believing P was defeated. The idea is that the epistemic strength of clear perception is sufficient to provide knowledge even where justification is lacking; perceiving that P is sufficient for knowing that P. In this paper, I explore a claim about knowledge that is (...)
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  14. Perception and Our Knowledge of the External World.Herbert Heidelberger - 1970 - Philosophical Review 79 (2):284.
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  15. Phenomenology of Perception: Theories and Experimental Evidence.Carmelo Cali - 2017 - Brill | Rodopi.
    _Phenomenology of Perception: Theories and Experimental Evidence_ presents an interpretation of phenomenology as a set of commitments to discover the immanent grammar of perception by reviewing arguments and experimental results that are still important today for psychology and the cognitive sciences.
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  16. On the Problem of Perceptual Defense.Leo Postman - 1953 - Psychological Review 60 (5):298-306.
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  17. Perceptual Knowledge and the Primacy of Judgment.Barry Stroud - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (3):385--395.
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  18. Epistemological Disjunctivism by Duncan Pritchard. Scho&#X. & G. Nbaumsfeld - 2015 - Analysis 75 (4):604-615.
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  19. The Epistemic Role of Experience.Frank Hofmann - unknown
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  20. -Sense-Knowledge.James Ward - 1919 - Mind 28 (4):447-462.
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  21. Epistemological Disjunctivism by Duncan Pritchard.Genia Schönbaumsfeld - 2015 - Analysis 75 (4):604-615.
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  22. Perception: And Our Knowledge of the External World.Don Locke - 1967 - Ny: Routledge.
    First published in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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  23. Aristotle's Empiricism: Experience and Mechanics in the 4th Century BC. [REVIEW]Monica Ugaglia - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):99-101.
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  24. The Cognitive Architecture of Perception.Juan Vázquez (ed.) - 2014 - Universidade de Porto.
    Putting forward an original analysis of perceiving as a cognitive attitude, as it contrasts with judging, believing and knowing, the author approaches several issues in the philosophy of perception, such as differences between presentation and representation, the natures of concepts and categorization, the justification of perceptual beliefs and their role in the justification of knowledge. His approach is influenced by phenomenology and by psychology and neuroscience of vision.
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  25. Reason and Experience. [REVIEW]C. A. V. - 1951 - Journal of Philosophy 48 (24):760-762.
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  26. Perceptual Objectivity and Consciousness: A Relational Response to Burge’s Challenge.Naomi Eilan - 2015 - Topoi:1-12.
    My question is: does phenomenal consciousness have a critical role in explaining the way conscious perceptions achieve objective import? I approach it through developing a dilemma I label ‘Burge’s Challenge’, which is implicit in his approach to perceptual objectivity. It says, crudely: either endorse the general structure of his account of how objective perceptual import is achieved, and give up on a role for consciousness. Or, relinquish Caused Representation, and possibly defend a role for consciousness. Someone I call Burge* holds (...)
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  27. Ästhetisches Wissen: Zwischen Sinnlichkeit Und Begriff.Peter Remmers & Christoph Asmuth (eds.) - 2015 - Berlin: De Gruyter.
    Aesthetic knowledge consists of a complex interplay between the sensual and the intellectual, and eludes a straightforward logic of judgment. This volume investigates the associated aesthetic, epistemological, and artistic problems using a historical-systematic approach. It documents the relevance of transcendental philosophical, idealistic, and phenomenological perspectives to a contemporary conception of sensual insight.
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  28. Moral Knowledge Assessment of a Perceptual Paradigm.Peter Sandø - 1988
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  29. Has Bertrand Russell Solved the Problem of Perception?: A Critical Exposition of Bertrand Russell's Analysis of Sense Perception and its Relation with the External World.Josephat Obi Oguejiofor - 1994 - Peter Lang.
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  30. A Hindu Critique of Buddhist Epistemology Kumarila on Perception.John A. Taber & Kumåarila Bhaòtòta - 2004
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  31. Sense Perception.Ayatollah S. Khamenei - unknown - Kheradnameh Sadra Quarterly 19.
    There are various philosophical doctrines on sense perception; including that of Mulla Sadra which is a marked one. Prior to expounding this doctrine, we should get acquainted with its foundations .Though not a sensationalist, Mulla Sadra accepts direct involvement of sense in human knowledge. He regards "attention" and "awareness" as two important constituents of perception and believes that they are immaterial and included among the faculties of the soul. According to Mulla Sadra the Knowledge is essentially the presence of the (...)
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  32. Epistemological Writings.Hermann Von Helmholtz, Malcolm F. Lowe, Robert S. Cohen & Yehuda Elkana - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (2):333-334.
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  33. Problem: The Validity of Sense Perception.M. Patricia - 1938 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 14:121.
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  34. Language and Sense Perception.M. Whitcomb Hess - 1947 - The Thomist 10:56.
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  35. Dancy . . - Perceptual knowledge. [REVIEW]J. Largeault - 1989 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 179:647.
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  36. Direct Perception in Mathematics: A Case for Epistemological Priority.Bart Kerkhove & Erik Myin - 2002 - Logique Et Analyse 45.
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  37. PRICHARD, H. A. - Knowledge and Perception: Essays and Lectures. [REVIEW]H. H. Price - 1951 - Mind 60:103.
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  38. DICKER, G. "Perceptual Knowledge". [REVIEW]J. W. Roxbee-cox - 1983 - Mind 92:279.
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  39. A Defence of Direct Realism, Incorporating a New Account of Sense-Data.John Michael Kearns - 1975 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
  40. Experience and the Foundations of Knowledge.Carolyn Hope Magid - 1974 - Dissertation, Princeton University
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  41. Role of Self-Purity in Acquiring Knowledge in Mulla Sadra's View.Fatima Suleymani - 2010 - Kheradnameh Sadra Quarterly 61.
    The relationship between knowledge and ethics is one of the important issues that has always been discussed in epistemology. The effect of self-purity on the quality of knowledge acquisition is also one of the interesting and fundamental subjects in this regard. In this research, after a general study of the views of Muslim philosophers concerning knowledge and the quality of attaining perception, it becomes clear that the truth of knowledge is ontological in nature and is emanated from the world above (...)
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  42. Experience and the Analytic: A Reconsideration of Empiricism.Arthur Pap - 1958 - Philosophical Review 69 (1):133-135.
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  43. Epistemológia Ako Vedná Disciplína?Ján Rybár - 1994 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 1 (1):109-122.
    The epistemology is the analysis of principles, foundations, structures and conditions of the scientific knowledge. Is it possible to solve these problems by scientific means and ways only? The traditional empirical epistemology was refuted on ground of the scientific research of perception, behavior, language etc. In this respect N. Chomskyś contribution is considerable. But what his solution represents is the neocartesian interpretation of the language competence. J. Piaget and his followers do not agree with the conception of N. Chomsky. According (...)
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  44. “Things Unreasonably Compulsory”: A Peircean Challenge to a Humean Theory of Perception, Particularly With Respect to Perceiving Necessary Truths.Catherine Legg - 2014 - Cognitio 15 (1):89-112.
    Much mainstream analytic epistemology is built around a sceptical treatment of modality which descends from Hume. The roots of this scepticism are argued to lie in Hume’s (nominalist) theory of perception, which is excavated, studied and compared with the very different (realist) theory of perception developed by Peirce. It is argued that Peirce’s theory not only enables a considerably more nuanced and effective epistemology, it also (unlike Hume’s theory) does justice to what happens when we appreciate a proof in mathematics.
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  45. Origins of Objectivity, by Tyler Burge. [REVIEW]Rebecca Copenhaver - 2013 - Mind 122 (488):1065-1068.
  46. On the Metaphysical Implications of Some Epistemological Commonplaces.Frank Jackson - unknown
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  47. Richard A. Fumerton., Metaphysical and Epistemological Problems of Perception.Bede Rundle - 1989 - International Studies in Philosophy 21 (1):82-83.
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  48. What Can We Know? An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge.L. P. Pojman & N. Vassallo - 1996 - Epistemologia 19 (2):359-362.
  49. Richard Fumerton, Epistemology.P. Murphy - 2007 - Philosophy in Review 27 (2):113.
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  50. Causal Efficacy of Representational Content in Spinoza.Valtteri Viljanen - 2010 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 27 (1):17-34.
    Especially in the appendix to the opening part of his Ethics, Spinoza discusses teleology in a manner that has earned him the status of a staunch critic of final causes. Much of the recent lively discussion concerning this complex and difficult issue has revolved around the writings of Jonathan Bennett who maintains that Spinoza does, in fact, reject all teleology. Especially important has been the argument claiming that because of his basic ontology, Spinoza cannot but reject thoughtful teleology, that is, (...)
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