Realism and Explanation in Perception

Bill Brewer

in Perception, Causation, and Objectivity

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199692040
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729713 | DOI:

Series: Consciousness & Self-Consciousness Series

Realism and Explanation in Perception

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Philosophers of perception face a problem in combining two intuitively compelling ideas about physical objects and our perceptual relation with them: first, empiricism, the thesis that physical objects are presented to us in perception; second, realism, the thesis that physical objects are mind‐independent. Realism is to be sustained by the fact that we may explain the actual and counterfactual order and nature of our perceptual experience of physical objects by appeal to the prior and independent nature of the physical objects themselves that we perceive. This poses a threat to empiricism. It is argued that the threat may be overcome by resisting the orthodox development of the explanatory strategy. In virtue of their modal robustness, commonsense explanations of the order and nature of experience resist any reduction to scientific physics that might threaten to undermine the empiricist idea that physical objects themselves are genuinely presented in perception.

Keywords: empiricism; realism; mind‐independence; commonsense explanation; scientific‐physics; commonsense‐physics; robustness; empirical realism

Chapter.  7203 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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