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© J. W. Waldrop 2019

Abstract

I argue that Thomas Reid’s theory of perception can be defended against the charges of inconsistency levied against it by Nicholas Wolterstorff. The challenge to be met is roughly that of showing how the Reidian account of perception can avoid being hampered by a descriptive theory of mental reference for perceptual states. First, I will review Reid’s theory of perception and Wolterstorff’s objections to it. Wolterstorff maintains that Reid is committed to an account of perceptual reference according to which mental representations are conceptual intermediaries between the perceiver and the objects of perception. I hope in section III to show that the theory attributed to Reid is unworkable. In the remainder of the paper I will argue that Reid need not be committed to any such view. In sections V through IX, I will sketch an alternative account of perceptual reference that is immediate in the required sense and that can be incorporated into a Reidian account of perception. My proposal will depend crucially on David Kaplan’s account of demonstratives and on mobilizing Kaplan’s semantics for application to the case of perceptual content.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.7710/2155-4838.1183

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