Naïve Realism and the Relationality of Phenomenal Character

Topoi 43 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Naïve realism (also called ‘relationalism’ or ‘object view’) is becoming increasingly popular, but the specific outline of its commitments remains often underspecified by proponents and misunderstood by critics. Naïve realism is associated with two claims, both concerning genuine, veridical perceptual experience (where this excludes hallucinations). Constitutive Claim (CC): The phenomenal character of perception is (partly) constituted by the mind-independent objects in one’s surrounding and their properties. Relational Claim (RC): Perception is a relation to mind-independent objects in the environment and their properties. Some philosophers use the two claims interchangeably while talking about naïve realism, while others use only one or the other, although they do not explicitly discuss if the other claim is also a core commitment of naïve realism, or if naïve realism can be held without the other claim. This raises the question of how RC and CC relate to one another, together with the most pressing question of what each claim ultimately commits one to. After discussing the shortcomings of alternative interpretations, I argue that naïve realism should be understood as committed to, first and foremost, RC. This should be understood as a claim about the phenomenal character of perception, rather than about its nature, structure or essence (whatever that means). CC, on the other hand, should be understood as a corollary of RC. This doesn’t only offer a better characterisation of how naïve realists understand phenomenal character: it also helps us understand how we can simultaneously claim that the object of perception is a constitutive element of perception, while also allowing for it to play a causal role in determining perception.

Author's Profile

Roberta Locatelli
University Tübingen


Added to PP

57 (#83,988)

6 months
57 (#52,539)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?