"'Unless I put my hand into his side, I will not believe'. The Epistemic Privilege of Touch

In Gatzia Dimitria & Brogaard Berit (eds.), The Epistemology of Non-Visual Perception. Oxford University Press. pp. 165-188 (2020)
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Touch seems to enjoy some epistemic advantage over the other senses when it comes to attest to the reality of external objects. The question is not whether only what appears in tactile experiences is real. It is that only whether appears in tactile experiences feels real to the subject. In this chapter we first clarify how exactly the rather vague idea of an epistemic advantage of touch over the other senses should be interpreted. We then defend a “muscular thesis”, to the effect that only the experience of resistance to our motor efforts, as it arises in effortful touch, presents us with the independent existence of some causally empowered object. We finally consider whether this muscular thesis applies to the perception of our own body.

Author Profiles

Olivier Massin
Université de Neuchâtel
Frédérique de Vignemont
Institut Jean Nicod


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