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Direct Realism and the Brain-in-a-Vat Argument

Michael Huemer
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Vol. 61, No. 2 (Sep., 2000), pp. 397-413
DOI: 10.2307/2653657
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2653657
Page Count: 17
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Direct Realism and the Brain-in-a-Vat Argument
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Abstract

The brain-in-a-vat argument for skepticism is best formulated, not using the closure principle, but using the "Preference Principle," which states that in order to be justified in believing H on the basis of E, one must have grounds for preferring H over each alternative explanation of E. When the argument is formulated this way, Dretske's and Klein's responses to it fail. However, the strengthened argument can be refuted using a direct realist account of perception. For the direct realist, refuting the BIV scenario is not a precondition on knowledge of the external world, and only the direct realist can give a non-circular account of how we know we're not brains in vats.

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