3think weak epistemological disjunctivism is non-negotiable for non-skeptics. I shall argue in thispaper that weak epistemological disjunctivism is something that non-skeptical contemporaryfoundationalists will just have to live.It can look to S as if
whether S perceives that
is the case or is hallucinating. The
says that perception and hallucination do not belong to a commonpsychological category. The difference between perception and hallucination is a kind of subjectivemental difference, albeit one that might not allow the subject to introspectively distinguishperception from hallucination.
Here is a common reaction to McDowell: he defends a deeply implausible claim aboutperceptual experience on the basis of deeply implausible claims about perceptual knowledge andthe justification of perceptual belief. I do not intend to defend his claims about perceptualexperience. I don’t have any view about experiential disjunctivism to defend. I think hisepistemology is sound and is not nearly as interesting as McDowell or his critics would have us believe. McDowell’s epistemology is one that even the sense-data theorist could love.
THE STATUS OF EPISTEMOLOGICAL DISJUNCTIVISM
I want to begin by addressing objections to epistemological disjunctivism. After explaining why theobjections to epistemological disjunctivism are not convincing, I shall offer an argument for theweak epistemological disjunctivist thesis.1.1
OBJECTIONS TO EPISTEMOLOGICAL DISJUNCTIVISM
Because McDowell says that the evidence S has for her beliefs in the good case are better than whatshe would have in the bad case on the grounds that only subjects in the good case have knowledge,some take him to be committed to the view that among the conditions necessary for knowledge isthat the possession of evidence or reasons that the subject could have only in the good case.Because of this, some might take McDowell to be saying that it is impossible for the truth of a belief to be the only thing that distinguishes a good case of perceptual knowledge from the bad case. Inturn, this suggests that his view is that a perceptual belief constitutes knowledge only if based onsomething that is incompatible with the falsity of that belief. Does that mean that McDowellsubscribes to the infallibilist view that S can know
only if S’s basis for believing
is incompatiblewith ~
? He might, but epistemological disjunctivism as such does not entail infallibilism.
Atleast, I hope it doesn’t. Infallibilism leads to skepticism.
It might not lead to a skeptical attitudeconcerning perceptual knowledge, but it leads to skepticism concerning induction. If knowledge ispossible only when we have infallible grounds for our beliefs, the external world skeptic might bewrong but I cannot see how the inductive skeptic could be.Is McDowell committed to infallibilism? According to fallibilism:(F) It is possible for a subject to know that
is the case on the basis of evidence or grounds that do not entail that
.If fallibilism is true, subjects in good and bad cases could have just the same evidence or reasons for believing
, but one of these subjects will be mistaken in believing
. But, then it seems that thedifference between the good and bad case will be ‘blankly external’ to the subjects in these cases.So, either there can be differences in epistemic standing that are blankly external to the subjects inthe good and bad case or infallibilism is true and knowledge based on non-entailing grounds orevidence is impossible. If the former is true, we do not need experiential disjunctivism tounderstand how perceptual knowledge is possible. If the latter is true, we trade one skepticalproblem for another.