An overview of the epistemology of perception, covering the nature of justification, immediate justification, the relationship between the metaphysics of perceptual experience and its rational role, the rational role of attention, and cognitive penetrability. The published version will contain a smaller bibliography, due to space constraints in the volume.
If our experiences are cognitively penetrable, they can be influenced by our antecedent expectations, beliefs, or other cognitive states. Theorists such as Churchland, Fodor, Macpherson, and Siegel have debated whether and how our cognitive states might influence our perceptual experiences, as well as how any such influences might affect the ability of our experiences to justify our beliefs about the external world. This article surveys views about the nature of cognitive penetration, the epistemological consequences of denying cognitive penetration, and the (...) epistemological consequences of affirming cognitive penetration. (shrink)
My focus will be on two questions about Moore’s justification to believe the premises and the conclusion of the argument above. At stake is what makes it possible for our experiences to justify our beliefs, and what makes it possible for us to be justified in disbelieving skeptical..
This paper is an essay in counterfactual epistemology. What if experience have high-level contents, to the effect that something is a lemon or that someone is sad? I survey the consequences for epistemology of such a scenario, and conclude that many of the striking consequences could be reached even if our experiences don't have high-level contents.
Suppose our visual experiences immediately justify some of our beliefs about the external world — that is, justify them in a way that does not rely on our having independent reason to hold any background belief. A key question now arises: Which of our beliefs about the external world can be immediately justified by experiences? I address this question in epistemology by doing some philosophy of mind. In particular, I evaluate the following proposal: if your experience e immediately justifies you (...) in believing that p , then (i) e has the content that p , and (ii) e ’s having the content that p is fixed by what it is like to have e . I start by clarifying this proposal and surveying the case in its favour. I then argue against the proposal and develop an alternative. The discussion shows what role visual consciousness plays and does not play in the justification of perceptual beliefs. (shrink)
I set out the standard view about alleged examples of failure of transmission of warrant, respond to two cases for the view, and argue that the view is false. The first argument for the view neglects the distinction between believing a proposition on the basis of a justification and merely having a justification to believe a proposition. The second argument for the view neglects the position that one's justification for believing a conclusion can be one's premise for the conclusion, rather (...) than simply one's justification for the premise. Finally, the view is false since it is inconsistent with the closure of knowledge as closure is properly understood. (shrink)
This paper examines how new evil demon problems could arise for our access to the internal world of our own minds. I start by arguing that the internalist/externalist debate in epistemology has been widely misconstrued---we need to reconfigure the debate in order to see how it can arise about our access to the internal world. I then argue for the coherence of scenarios of radical deception about our own minds, and I use them to defend a properly formulated internalist view (...) about our access to our minds. The overarching lesson is that general epistemology and the specialized epistemology of introspection need to talk---each has much to learn from each other. (shrink)
The massive debate in philosophy and psychology and neuroscience about higher-order theories of consciousness has not adequately distinguished between the following two claims. (Necessary Awareness): For any conscious mental state M and subject S, if S is in M, then S is aware of M. (The Higher-Order Theory): For any conscious mental state M and subject S, if S is in M, then M is conscious because S is aware of M. -/- While I will assume that the first claim (...) is true, I will argue that we should reject higher-order theories of consciousness. We should turn them on their head to go with the following theory: (The Ascending Road): For any conscious mental state M and subject S, if S is in M, then S is aware of M because M is conscious. (shrink)
This paper evaluates the prospects of harnessing “anti-individualism” about the contents of perceptual states to give an account of the epistemology of perception, making special reference to Tyler Burge’s ( 2003 ) paper, “Perceptual Entitlement”. I start by clarifying what kind of warrant is provided by perceptual experience, and I go on to survey different ways one might explain the warrant provided by perceptual experience in terms of anti-individualist views about the individuation of perceptual states. I close by motivating accounts (...) which instead give a more prominent role to consciousness. (shrink)
According to Fumerton in his "How Does Perception Justify Belief?", it is misleading or wrong to say that perception is a source of justification for beliefs about the external world. Moreover, reliability does not have an essential role to play here either. I agree, and I explain why in section 1, using novel considerations about evil demon scenarios in which we are radically deceived. According to Fumerton, when it comes to how sensations or experiences supply justification, they do not do (...) so on their own, and instead only do so only in conjunction with support for background beliefs about how the sensations or experiences are best explained. Here I disagree. In section 2, I first clarify the question of whether sensations or experiences provide justification on their own. I then respond to Fumerton’s arguments that use considerations about concept-possession and about how to close possible gaps between experience and truth. In section 3, I develop my main concern about his positive view, where that concern also brings out some of the merits of the view that experiences do justify beliefs about the external world on their own. (shrink)
In this paper I develop the idea that, by answering the question whether p, you can answer the question whether you believe that p. In particular, I argue that judging that p is a fallible yet basic guide to whether one believes that p. I go on to defend my view from an important skeptical challenge, according to which my view would make it too easy to reject skeptical hypotheses about our access to our minds. I close by responding to (...) the opposing view on which our beliefs themselves constitute our only source of first-person access to our beliefs. (shrink)
We offer a framework for assessing what the structure of episodic memory might be, if one accepts the Buddhist denial of persisting selves. This paper is a response to Jonardon Ganeri's paper "Mental time travel and attention", which explores Buddhaghosa's ideas about memory. (It will eventually be published with a reply by Ganeri).
Psychologists and neuroscientists have delivered a lot of bad news about the inner workings of our minds, raising challenging questions about the extent to which we are rational in important domains of our judgments. I will focus on a central case of an unsettling effect on our perception, and primarily aim to establish that there actually is no impact from it on the rationality of our perceptual beliefs. To reach my goal, I will start with a rough review of different (...) ways bad news about our minds might negatively affect our rationality. I’ll then propose a test for when negative consequences would follow from the truth of some bad news about our minds, and I will argue that the test is not passed in a paradigmatic case of influence of bias on perception. I will then close by looking at potential wider implications of the psychological bad news for debates about internalism vs. externalism in epistemology. (shrink)
In part one, I clarify the crucial notion of “introspection”, and give novel cases for the coherence of scenarios of local and global deception about how we access our own minds, drawing on empirical work. In part two, I evaluate a series of skeptical arguments based on such scenarios of error, and in each case explain why the skeptical argument fails. The first main upshot is that we should not over-estimate what it takes to introspect: introspection need not be accurate, (...) or non-inferential, or exclusive of perception, or even exclusive of confabulation. The second main upshot is that, while skeptical challenges by figures such as Carruthers, Doris, and Schwitzgebel are rich and empirically informed, these skeptical challenges founder on how they are epistemologically under-informed. (shrink)