The Given in Perceptual Experience

Synthese 192 (8) (2015)
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Abstract

How are we to account for the epistemic contribution of our perceptual experiences to the reasonableness of our perceptual beliefs? It is well known that a conception heavily influenced by Cartesian thinking has it that experiences do not enable the experiencing subject to have direct epistemic contact with the external world; rather, they are regarded as openness to a kind of private inner realm that is interposed between the subject and the world. It turns out that if one wants to insist that perceptual experiences provide epistemic reasons for perceptual beliefs about the external world as we pre-reflectively take it to be, then one should find a way of avoiding Cartesianism. Here are the two main aims of this paper: firstly, identify the premise that is doing the heavy-lifting work in the Cartesian thinking; and, secondly, formulate an adequate way of denying that premise. The adequacy I claim for my formulation of a way of denying the premise will roughly amount to this: the way I offer is not as susceptible to Cartesian traps as other apparently available ways of denying the premise are.

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Erhan Demircioglu
Koc University