Monday, January 7, 2019

Arguments Against Direct Realism and How to Counter Them

In his essay, “Arguments Against Direct Realism and How to Counter Them,” Pierre Le Morvan discusses the argumentative strategies that can be used to counter eight arguments that are often used against Direct Realism.

In the conclusion to the essay, he lists seven points that the Direct Realists should accept to avoid falling prey to the arguments directed against their position:
(i) distinguish causal indirectness from cognitive indirectness and maintain that the causal indirectness of perception does not entail that it is cognitively indirect;
(ii) concede that we cannot (given the laws of physics) directly perceive external physical objects or events without a time lag, however minute, without conceding that this entails that we cannot directly perceive physical objects;
(iii) reject the notion that perceiving a physical object requires perceiving all of its spatial or temporal parts at once;
(iv) maintain that physical objects can appear differently than how they are;

(v) be wary of question-begging reifications of appearances by their opponents;
(vi) concede that doubts can be raised that we are perceiving physical objects without conceding that this entails that we do not perceive physical objects;

(vii) treat sensible qualities as modes of perceptual awareness rather than as objects of awareness. 
The essay ends with a brief account of the debate in scholastic philosophy between the Perceptionists (who are today known as the Direct Realists) and the Representationists. Descartes did not agree with the scholastic Representationists but the Cartesian system that he devised was to a large extent in agreement with their thought. 

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