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Skepticism and the Veil of Perception (Studies in Epistemology and Cognitive Theory) [Paperback]

Michael Huemer
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 17, 2001 0742512533 978-0742512535
Since Descartes, one of the central questions of Western philosophy has been that of how we know that the objects we seem to perceive are real. Philosophical skeptics claim that we know no such thing. Representationalists claim that we can gain such knowledge only by inference, by showing that the hypothesis of a real world is the best explanation for the kind of sensations and mental images we experience. Both accept the doctrine of a 'veil of perception:' that perception can only give us direct awareness of images or representations of objects, not the external objects themselves. In contrast, Huemer develops a theory of perceptual awareness in which perception gives us direct awareness of real objects, not mental representations, and we have non-inferential knowledge of the properties of these objects. Further, Huemer confronts the four main arguments for philosophical skepticism, showing that they are powerless against this kind of theory of perceptual knowledge.

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Skepticism and the Veil of Perception (Studies in Epistemology and Cognitive Theory) + Ethical Intuitionism + The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey
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Editorial Reviews


This essay is useful for its clear, accessible discussion of standard skeptical arguments and its critical review of the major arguments for sense-data. Huemer's discussion of those matters is comprehensive and engaging. (Mind: A Quarterly Review of Philosophy)

About the Author

Michael Huemer is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Epistemology and Cognitive Theory
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (July 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742512533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742512535
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Huemer received his BA from UC Berkeley in 1992 and his PhD from Rutgers University in 1998. He is presently professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the author of _Skepticism and the Veil of Perception_, _Ethical Intuitionism_, and _The Problem of Political Authority_, as well as more than 40 academic articles in epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and metaphysics.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It seems that Huemer is a Phenomenal Conservative March 6, 2002
I first encountered Michael Huemer's philosophy on his web site, and I found it clear, intelligent, and accessible. So when SatVoP was published I immediately purchased a copy. This book is well organized and presents what I found to be some fresh ideas in the field of epistemology. In particular, his notion of Phenomenal Convervatism is interesting and compelling.
However, I was a little less impressed with his arguments against indirect realism. He focuses on the property of position (i.e. location) and asks where is the object that I am perceiving. For indirect realism, the object perceived is not the real object but a representation of it. He dismisses the answer "in my brain" and laughs off the idea of a tiny table nestling in amongst the gray matter.
Well, clearly, there is a representation of a table in your brain provided you have a concept of a table. Huemer claims that perception is direct and that the mechanism of perception is irrelevant. This leaves open the question of perception through the means of electronic and/or mechanical enhancement. Are you directly perceiving a table viewed on television?
While I agree that indirect realism leaves us open to the skeptical arguments such as "brain-in-a-vat", I'm not nearly so uncomfortable with that result as is Huemer. I can't rule out the BIV hypothesis, but that is really not so troubling. There are lots of absurd hypotheses that I can't rule out (Black Helicopters, etc.).
I found it interesting that Huemer is very comfortable with the idea that "knowledge" is equal to "it seems to me that ..." in the absence of defeaters.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent November 1, 2005
There's a lot in this fairly short book, but the upshot is that it's a wonderful revivification of the common-sense approach to epistemology. The arguments are lucid and well presented, and they all hang together very well to paint a picture of Huemer's thinking. I have no postgraduate education in philosophy but I found it accessible and understandable, although it will still be somewhat technical for people with no prior experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 4, 2014
By moo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Michael Huemer is a genius!
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