Perception as a way of knowing

  • Wes Skolits

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


The aim of this thesis is to construct and defend a theory of perceptual justification derived from a knowledge-first account of epistemic justification on which the rational force of experience is grounded its knowledge-producing power. In the constructive part of the project, Chapter 1, I develop a theory of perceptual justification on the basis of the epistemological framework defended in Williamson (2000). In slogan form, this view holds that “perception is a way of knowing,” and can be stated as the following thesis:

S’s belief that p is perceptually justified if and only if S knows that p via a perceptually- individuated method.

In the remainder of the thesis, I defend PK and the normative framework on which it depends. In Chapter 2 I defend a crucial consequence of PK—viz., the Entailment Thesis, according to which seeing that p entail knowing that p—from recent objections due to Turri (2010). In Chapter 3 I distinguish strong vs weak epistemological disjunctivism (of which PK counts as an instance) and argue that the former, as defended by Pritchard (2012), suffers from a devastating objection. In Chapter 4 I defend the normative framework within which PK is constructed—in particular the account of dispositional rationality developed in Williamson’s work on the knowledge norm of belief—from recent objections due to Brown (2018). In Chapter 5 I argue against the claim that externalist accounts like PK support veridicalist responses to skepticism, viz., the view according to which subjects can know ordinary empirical propositions in global skeptical scenarios. And finally, in Chapter 6, I argue that PK is compatible with recent work in vision science which requires, inter alia, defending the principle of epistemic safety from a recent objection.
Date of Award28 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorJessica Anne Brown (Supervisor)

Access Status

  • Full text open

Cite this