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Scepticism and Perceptual Justification$
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Dylan Dodd and Elia Zardini

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658343

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658343.001.0001

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Perceptual Knowledge and Background Beliefs*

Perceptual Knowledge and Background Beliefs*

Chapter:
(p.128) 7 Perceptual Knowledge and Background Beliefs*
Source:
Scepticism and Perceptual Justification
Author(s):

Alan Millar

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658343.003.0007

It is plausible that some perceptual knowledge has rich content—content that goes beyond the superficial appearance of the objects perceived. This poses a problem: how can the way something appears reveal to us that it is of some rich kind, for instance a telephone, given the possibility that something could appear in the same way and not be of that kind? Objections are raised to accounts that treat such perceptual knowledge as covertly inferential. A theory of perceptual-recognitional abilities that deals with the initial problem is outlined and then extended to cover some knowledge from indicators, for instance, smoke and skid-marks. Recognitional abilities can be informed by belief in generalizations relating appearances to, for instance, membership of kinds. The status of such beliefs is argued to be problematic. A constructive suggestion is made.

Keywords:   appearances, background beliefs, generalizations, inference, perceptual knowledge, recognitional abilities

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