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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 16, 1991

Dan D. Crawford
Pages 107-123
DOI: 10.5840/jpr_1991_26

On Having Reasons for Perceptual Beliefs
A Sellarsian Perspective

I interpret and defend Sellars’ intemalist view of perceptual justification which argues that perceivers have evidence for their perceptual beliefs that includes a higher-order belief about the circumstances in which those beliefs arise, and an epistemic belief about the reliability of beliefs that are formed in those circumstances. The pattem of inference that occurs in ordinary cases of perception is elicited. I then defend this account of perceptual evidence against 1) AIston’s objection that ordinary perceivers are not as critical and reflective as this view requires them to be; and 2) the charge that intemalism leads to various forms of infinite regress and circular reasoning. It is granted that subjects must have further grounds for their justifying reasons, and an attempt is made to identify these second-order reasons. In particular, I argue that epistemic beliefs are grounded in the perceiver’s awareness that his present experience-cum-conditions fits into a larger pattem of similar past experiences that were reliably connected with their objects.

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