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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*

(p.128) 7 Perceptual Knowledge and Background Beliefs*
Scepticism and Perceptual Justification

Alan Millar

Oxford University Press

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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