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April 18 , 2011

The Appeal to the Given

A Study in Epistemology


Originally published in 1970. This work evaluates the appeal to the sensually given which played an important role in epistemological discussions during the early 20th Century. While many contemporary philosophers regarded this appeal as a mistake, there were still some who defended the notion of the given and even made it the foundation of their views regarding perception. The author here points to several different views concerning the nature of the sensually given and argues that the issue between them is not empirical, as is naturally suggested by what he calls ‘the Naïve View’ of the dispute, but rather metaphysical, involving different theories regarding the relationship between Thought and Reality. This leads on to a discussion of the different views presently held regarding the task of the epistemologist, and to a new suggestion with regard to the relationship between common sense and the rival ontologies suggested by scientists and philosophers.

In the course of the argument a variety of different topics are discussed such as the correspondence and coherence theories of truth, the differences between scientific and philosophical theories, and the relevance of scientific treatments of the subject of perception to the treatment of this topic by philosophers.

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