Seeing Through the 'Veil of Perception'

Mind 120 (478):329-367 (2011)
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Suppose our visual experiences immediately justify some of our beliefs about the external world — that is, justify them in a way that does not rely on our having independent reason to hold any background belief. A key question now arises: Which of our beliefs about the external world can be immediately justified by experiences? I address this question in epistemology by doing some philosophy of mind. In particular, I evaluate the following proposal: if your experience e immediately justifies you in believing that p , then (i) e has the content that p , and (ii) e ’s having the content that p is fixed by what it is like to have e . I start by clarifying this proposal and surveying the case in its favour. I then argue against the proposal and develop an alternative. The discussion shows what role visual consciousness plays and does not play in the justification of perceptual beliefs.

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Nicholas Silins
Cornell University


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