• Understanding How Experience "seems"
    European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 5 (2): 67-78. 2009.
    I argue against one way of understanding the claim that how one’s visual experience “seems” provides support for the naïve-realist theory and weighs against sense-data theories . If my argument is correct, and we abandon this way of understanding how experience “seems”, we would lose one reason for favouring naïve-realism at the start of the dialectic of the traditional problem of perception. En route, I distinguish diff erent ways of understanding the transparency of experience, consider how to…Read more
  • Visual Experience & Demonstrative Thought
    Disputatio 4 (30): 69-91. 2011.
    I raise a problem for common-factor theories of experience concerning the demonstrative thoughts we form on the basis of experience. Building on an insight of Paul Snowdon 1992, I argue that in order to demonstratively refer to an item via conscious awareness of a distinct intermediary the subject must have some understanding that she is aware of a distinct intermediary. This becomes an issue for common-factor theories insofar as it is also widely accepted that the general, pre-philosophical or …Read more
  • Phenomenology without Representation
    European Journal of Philosophy 21 (3): 1209-1237. 2013.
    I criticise a recent variety of argument for the representational theory of experience, which holds that the very idea of perceptual experience entails the representational view. I argue that the representational view is not simply obvious, nor is it contained in the mere idea of the world looking some way. I also clarify and re-present an argument against the representational view due to Charles Travis.
  • Belief Norms & Blindspots
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (2): 243-269. 2013.
    I defend the thesis that beliefs are constitutively normative from two kinds of objection. After clarifying what a “blindspot” proposition is and the different types of blindspots there can be, I show that the existence of such propositions does not undermine the thesis that beliefs are essentially governed by a negative truth norm. I argue that the “normative variance” exhibited by this norm is not a defect. I also argue that if we accept a distinction between subjective and objective norms the…Read more
  • A New Approach to 'Perfect' Hallucinations
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (11-12): 81-110. 2014.
    I consider a new, non-disjunctive strategy for ‘relational’ or ‘naïve realist’ theories to respond to arguments from ‘perfect’ (causally matching) hallucinations. The strategy, in a nutshell, is to treat such hypothetical cases as instances of perception rather than hallucination. After clarifying the form and dialectic of such arguments, I consider three objections to the strategy. I provide answers to the first two objections but concede that the third — based on the possibility of ‘chaotic’ …Read more
  • Phenomenal Privacy, Similarity and Communicability
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4. 2017.
    The idea that there are features of or in our conscious experience that are, in some important sense, private has both a long history in philosophy and a large measure of intuitive attraction. Once this idea is in place, it will be very natural to assume that one can think and judge about one’s own private features. And it is then only a small step to the idea that we might communicate such thoughts and judgements about our respective private features with each other.
  • Against an Inferentialist Dogma
    Synthese 194 (4): 1397-1421. 2017.
    I consider the ‘inferentialist’ thesis that whenever a mental state rationally justifies a belief it is in virtue of inferential relations holding between the contents of the two states. I suggest that no good argument has yet been given for the thesis. I focus in particular on Williamson (2000) and Ginsborg (2011) and show that neither provides us with a reason to deny the plausible idea that experience can provide non-inferential justification for belief. I finish by pointing out some theoreti…Read more
  • Another Argument Against Uniqueness
    Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267): 327-346. 2017.
    I present an argument against the thesis of Uniqueness and in favour of Permissivism. Counterexamples to Uniqueness are provided, based on ‘Safespot’ propositions – i.e. a proposition that is guaranteed to be true provided the subject adopts a certain attitude towards it. The argument relies on a plausible principle: (roughly stated) If S knows that her believing p would be a true belief, then it is rationally permitted for S to believe p. One motivation for denying this principle – viz. opposit…Read more
  • Tolerant enactivist cognitive science
    Philosophical Explorations 21 (2): 226-244. 2018.
    Enactivist (Embodied, Embedded, etc.) approaches in cognitive science and philosophy of mind are sometimes, though not always, conjoined with an anti-representational commitment. A weaker anti-representational claim is that ascribing representational content to internal/sub-personal processes is not compulsory when giving psychological explanations. A stronger anti-representational claim is that the very idea of ascribing representational content to internal/sub-personal processes is a theoretic…Read more
  • Science, substance and spatial appearances
    Philosophical Studies 177 (8): 2097-2114. 2020.
    According to a certain kind of naïve or folk understanding of physical matter, everyday ‘solid’ objects are composed of a homogeneous, gap-less substance, with sharply defined boundaries, which wholly fills the space they occupy. A further claim is that our perceptual experience of the environment represents or indicates that the objects around us conform to this sort of conception of physical matter. Were this further claim correct, it would mean that the way that the world appears to us in exp…Read more
  • Plenty of room left for the Dogmatist
    Analysis 80 (1): 66-76. 2020.
    Barnett provides an interesting new challenge for Dogmatist accounts of perceptual justification. The challenge is that such accounts, by accepting that a perceptual experience can provide a distinctive kind of boost to one’s credences, would lead to a form of diachronic irrationality in cases where one has already learnt in advance that one will have such an experience. I show that this challenge rests on a misleading feature of using the 0–1 interval to express probabilities and show that if w…Read more
  • Suspending is Believing
    Synthese (3): 1-26. 2019.
    A good account of the agnostic attitude of Suspending Judgement should explain how it can be rendered more or less rational/justified according to the state of one's evidence – and one's relation to that evidence. I argue that the attitude of suspending judgement whether p constitutively involves having a belief; roughly, a belief that one cannot yet tell whether or not p. I show that a theory of suspending that treats it as a sui generis attitude, wholly distinct from belief, struggles to accou…Read more
  • The Recent Renaissance of Acquaintance
    In Thomas Raleigh & Jonathan Knowles (eds.), Acquaintance: New Essays, Oxford University Press. 2019.
    This is the introductory essay to the collection of essays: 'Acquaintance: New Essays' (eds. Knowles & Raleigh, forthcoming, OUP). In this essay I provide some historical background to the concept of acquaintance. I examine various Russellian theses about acquaintance that contemporary acquaintance theorists may wish to reject. I consider a number of questions that acquaintance theorists face. I provide a survey of current debates in philosophy where acquaintance has recently been invoked. And I…Read more
  • Much attention has recently been paid to the idea, which I label ‘External World Acquaintance’ (EWA), that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience is partially constituted by external features. One motivation for EWA which has received relatively little discussion is its alleged ability to help deal with the ‘Explanatory Gap’ (e.g. Fish 2008, 2009, Langsam 2011, Allen 2016). I provide a reformulation of this general line of thought, which makes clearer how and when EWA could help to ex…Read more
  • Acquaintance: New Essays (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2019.
    Bertrand Russell famously distinguished between ‘Knowledge by Acquaintance’ and ‘Knowledge by Description’. For much of the latter half of the Twentieth Century, many philosophers viewed the notion of acquaintance with suspicion, associating it with Russellian ideas that they would wish to reject. However in the past decade or two the concept has undergone a striking revival in mainstream ‘analytic’ philosophy – acquaintance is, it seems, respectable again. This is the first collection of new es…Read more
  • Perceptual experience and degrees of belief
    Philosophical Quarterly (2): 378-406. 2020.
    According to the recent Perceptual Confidence view, perceptual experiences possess not only a representational content, but also a degree of confidence in that content. The motivations for this view are partly phenomenological and partly epistemic. We discuss both the phenomenological and epistemic motivations for the view, and the resulting account of the interface between perceptual experiences and degrees of belief. We conclude that, in their present state of development, orthodox accounts of…Read more