Date of this Version
Journal of Philosophical Research 16 (1991), pp. 107–123.
I interpret and defend Sellars’ internalist 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 pattern of inference that occurs in ordinary cases of perception is elicited.
I then defend this account of perceptual evidence against (1) Alston’s objection that ordinary perceivers are not as critical and reflective as this view requires them to be, and (2) the charge that internalism 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 pattern of similar past experiences that were reliably connected with their objects.