Phenomenalism and the Causal Theory of Perception: A Combined Theory

  • Georges Dicker
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 22)


We have seen that neither the classical causal theory of perception nor ontological phenomenalism provides an adequate epistemology of perception. The classical causal theory implies a causal analysis of perceiving and a realist metaphysic that cannot be denied without doing violence to both the concept of perceiving and common-sense, but it fails on epistemological grounds. Ontological phenomenalism is very attractive from a purely epistemological point of view, but fails because it is incompatible with a causal analysis of perceiving and implies other metaphysical absurdities as well. Analytical phenomenalism is an attempt to secure the epistemological advantages of ontological phenomenalism without incurring its metaphysical paradoxes. Whether analytical phenomenalism succeeds in providing an adequate epistemology of perception, then, depends (as I said in the previous chapter) on two questions. First, is analytical phenomenalism compatible with the causal analysis of perceiving and the realist metaphysic implied by the causal theory; i. e. can one consistently be both a phenomenalist and a (causal) realist? Second, does analytical phenomenalism provide an adequate account of the justification of perceptual beliefs concerning physical things? In this chapter, I shall argue that affirmative answers may be given to both of these questions. Sections 1–3 will be concerned primarily with the first question, and Sections 4–6 primarily with the second.


Perceptual Experience Potato Chip Sweet Taste Causal Theory Perceptual Judgment 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georges Dicker
    • 1
  1. 1.State University of New York College at BrockportUSA

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