Silencing the Argument from Hallucination

In Fiona MacPherson & Dimitris Platchias (eds.), Hallucination (MIT Press). MIT Press (2013)

Abstract

Ordinary people tend to be realists regarding perceptual experience, that is, they take perceiving the environment as a direct, unmediated, straightforward access to a mindindependent reality. Not so for (ordinary) philosophers. The empiricist influence on the philosophy of perception, in analytic philosophy at least, made the problem of perception synonymous with the view that realism is untenable. Admitting the problem (and trying to offer a view on it) is tantamount to rejecting ordinary people’s implicit realist assumptions as naive. So what exactly is the problem? We can approach it via one of the central arguments against realism – the argument from hallucination. The argument is intended as a proof that in ordinary, veridical cases of perception, perceivers do not have an unmediated perceptual access to the world. There are many versions of it; I propose the following1: 1. Hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from veridical perceptions are possible. 2. If two subjective states are indistinguishable, then they have a common nature. 3. The contents of hallucinations are mental images, not concrete external objects. 4. Therefore, the contents of veridical perceptions are mental images rather than concrete external objects. The key move is, I believe, from the fact that hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from cases of veridical perception are possible to an alleged common element, factor, or nature, in the form of a mental state, in the two cases – that is, premise 2. Disjunctivism, at its core, can be taken as simply denying this move, and arguing that all that follows from the premise stating the possibility of hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from cases veridical perception is that there is a broader category, that of “experience as of...”, which encompasses both cases..

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István Aranyosi
Bilkent University

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Citations of this work

Experiencing Silence.Phillip John Meadows - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (2):238-250.
Can We Hear Silence?Daniela Šterbáková - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (1):33-53.

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