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Counterfeiting Perceptual Experience: Scepticism, Internalism, and the Disjunctive Conception of Experience

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Along with what McDowell has called the disjunctive conception of experience (DCE), and against a venerable tradition, the veridical experience that P and the subjectively indistinguishable hallucination that P are not type-identical mental states. According to McDowell, a powerful motivation for DCE is that it makes available the sole internalistically acceptable way out of a sceptical argument targeting the possibility of perceptual knowledge. In this paper I state in explicit terms the sceptical argument McDowell worries about, and show that DCE has not the epistemological merits that McDowell ascribes to it. To begin with, I join a series of commentators in arguing that the way out of the sceptical argument made available by DCE is not internalistically acceptable, and so argue that it is not a way out that an internalist about epistemic justification would have any special reason to prefer to a parallel externalist way out that does not commit to DCE. Secondly, I show that the internalist can resist the sceptical argument by denying a different premise of it that McDowell takes for granted. I conclude by maintaining that McDowell's epistemological motivation for DCE is undercut.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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