Disjunctivism, Causality, and the Objects of Perceptual Experience
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One of the most immediately compelling arguments against the disjunctivist position within the philosophy of perception points to the well-accepted fact that hallucinations can have the same neural cause as veridical perceptions; this is known as the causal argument. Since the main motivation for disjunctivism is to preserve naive realism, critics claim that naive realism is then incompatible with certain, well-accepted claims of neuropsychology, and, thus, disjunctivism is false. After surveying the general arguments for disjunctivism offered by Hinton, Snowden, and Martin, the causal argument is split into a stronger version and a weaker version. The strong argument relies on a narrow conception of the ‘same cause, same effect’ principle and this narrow conception is extremely controversial, ultimately entailing that mental events supervene only on the total brain state of an individual. The weak argument, which embraces a wider conception of the ‘same cause, same effect’ principle finds the disjunctivist position explanatorily redundant. The two major camps within disjunctivism, positive disjunctivism and negative disjunctivism, offer different approaches to the weak argument, and what emerges from the discussion of these two theories is that negative disjunctivism has a major dialectical advantage against positive disjunctivism, and that negative disjunctivism offers a satisfying response to the weak causal argument. M. G. F. Martin offers an insightful analysis of ‘indistinguishability’ and in doing so clarifies the disjunctivist thesis, sets limits to our understanding of our own mental states, and places the burden with the common-kind theorist.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeO'Hagan, Emer; Dayton, Eric; Teucher, Ulrich
Copyright DateAugust 2014