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

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0742512535
ISBN-10: 0742512533
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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.
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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: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,115,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Full disclosure: I was sceptical of Huemer's thesis from the get go, but Huemer's overall argument is compelling. He did well to provide a careful, clear, and accessible case for his optimistic view of perception. This is top notch philosophy scholarship.

If I found anything to be missing, it was a review and analysis of the relevant empirical work.
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