Perception and Basic Beliefs: Zombies, Modules and the Problem of the External World

Lyons, J. C. (2009) Perception and Basic Beliefs: Zombies, Modules and the Problem of the External World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195373578 (doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373578.001.0001)

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This book addresses two central questions in epistemology: (1) which beliefs are epistemologically basic (i.e., noninferentially justified)? and (2) where does perception end and inferential cognition begin? The book offers a highly externalist theory, arguing that it is not introspectible features of the beliefs that determine their status as basic or as perceptual; instead, these are determined by the nature of the cognitive system, or module, that produced the beliefs. On this view, the sensory experiences that typically accompany perceptual beliefs play no indispensable role in the justification of these beliefs, and one can have perceptual beliefs—justified perceptual beliefs—even in the absence of any sensory experiences whatsoever. The book develops a general theory of basic beliefs and argues that perceptual beliefs are a species of basic beliefs. This results from the fact that perceptual modules are a special type of basic-belief-producing modules. Importantly, some beliefs are not the outputs of this class of cognitive module; these beliefs are nonbasic, thus requiring evidential support from other beliefs for their justification. This last point is used to defend a reliabilist epistemology against an important class of traditional objections (where the agent uses a reliable process that she doesn't know to be reliable). The overarching view defended in the book is a type of reliabilism, and the basic/nonbasic distinction developed here offers a version of reliabilism that takes inference seriously yet remains staunchly externalist.

Item Type:Books
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lyons, Professor Jack
Authors: Lyons, J. C.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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