The good, the bad and the naive

In Christoph Limbeck-Lilienau & Friedrich Stadler (eds.), The Philosophy of Perception. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 57-74 (2019)
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A perceptual realism that is naive in a good way must be naively realistic about world and mind. But contemporary self-described naive realists often have trouble acknowledging that both the good cases of successful perception and the bad cases of illusion and hallucination involve internal experiential states with intentional contents that present the world as being a certain way. They prefer to think about experience solely in relational terms because they worry that otherwise we won’t be able to escape from radical skepticism. I argue that experiential relations to objects require that their subjects be in internal experiential states. But this does not mean that these states are our epistemological starting point which can be known independently of any knowledge of the external world. We do escape the epistemological predicament of radical skepticism because the good cases are primary over the bad ones. But this is not because the good cases alone provide reasons for belief, but because we do not need a reason to think we are in a good case, but do need a reason to think we are not, and such a reason must come from a good case. So bad cases can only be thought of as deviations from good cases. And we can only understand experiences as states with contents distinct from their objects and present in good and bad cases once we understand misrepresentation, that is, bad cases, and therefore only as we ascribe knowledge of the external world to ourselves.

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Michael Schmitz
University of Vienna


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