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Disjunctivism and the possibility of perceptual knowledge

Cunningham, J.J.; (2010) Disjunctivism and the possibility of perceptual knowledge. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis is about one of John McDowell’s epistemic arguments for perceptual disjunctivism. According to the argument in question we can know things on the basis of perception only if perceptions provide us with different epistemic reasons than phenomenally indistinguishable hallucinations and this is possible only if perceptions have mind-independent states of the world as constituents and are hence a different kind of experiential state from hallucinations, as the perceptual disjunctivist suggests. I argue against some detractors that there is an argument with this structure to be found in McDowell’s writings. I then argue that McDowell’s own version of the argument fails because it relies on commitments to certain theses which generate problems for the argument. I then describe an alternative version of the argument. The alternative version of the argument relies on a distinctive theory of what it is for perceptions to provide their subjects with epistemic reasons. According to this theory, perceptions are not themselves reasons to believe things about the world but enable us to possess reasons which are then thought of as the states of the world they relate us to: perceptions are not reasons but are ways of possessing reasons. I attempt to develop this theory, defend it against some objections, and I argue that if it is correct then the epistemic argument can be got to work without any commitment to the problematic theses McDowell’s version of the argument commits itself to.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Disjunctivism and the possibility of perceptual knowledge
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/761802
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