Inferences, Experiences, and the Myth of the Given: A Reply to Champagne

Logos and Episteme 8 (1):155-162 (2017)
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In a recent article in this journal, Marc Champagne leveled an argument against what Wilfrid Sellars dubbed “the Myth of the Given.” Champagne contends that what is given in observation in the form of a sensation must be able to both cause and justify propositionally structured beliefs. He argues for this claim by attempting to show that one cannot decide which of two equally valid chains of inference is sound without appeal to what is given in experience. In this note, I show that while this argument is sound, the conclusion he draws is far too strong. Champagne’s argument shows only that our empirical beliefs are determined through experience. It does not license the stronger claim that, in order for us to have empirical knowledge, bare sensations must be able to justify beliefs.
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