Perceptual Justification and the Cartesian Theater

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Abstract
According to a traditional Cartesian epistemology of perception, perception does not provide one with direct knowledge of the external world. Instead, when you look out to see a red wall, what you learn first is not a fact about the color of the wall—i.e., that it is red—but instead a fact about your own visual experience—i.e., that the wall looks red to you. If you are to justifiably believe that the wall is red, you must be in a position to justifiably infer this conclusion about the external world from known premises about your own visual experience. Recent anti-Cartesian theorists have pushed back against this traditional model, claiming that the epistemic significance of having a perceptual experience is not exhausted by what can be inferred from the fact that you have the experience. After clarifying an underappreciated commitment of Cartesian accounts and some key motivations for resisting it, I argue that any anti-Cartesian account strong enough to take advantage of these motivations must license a way of updating one’s beliefs in response to anticipated experiences that seems diachronically irrational. To avoid this implausible result, the anti-Cartesian must choose between licensing an implausible kind of epistemic chauvinism, or else claiming that merely reflecting on one’s experiences can defeat the perceptual justification that they otherwise provide. This leaves us with a puzzle: Although there are powerful motivations for rejecting Cartesianism, any view that avails itself of them faces serious problems of its own.
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Archival date: 2016-02-09
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Evidence of Evidence as Higher Order Evidence.Eder, Anna-Maria A. & Brössel, Peter

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