Anna Tomaszewska

McDowell and Perceptual Reasons

17/1 - Spring 2012, pages 73–88
Date of online publication: 04 juin 2012
Date of publication: 04 juin 2012


John McDowell claims that perception provides reasons for empirical beliefs. Perceptual reasons, according to the author of Mind and World, can be identified with passively “taken in” facts. Concepts figure in the acts of acquiring perceptual reasons, even though the acts themselves do not consist in judgments. Thus, on my reading, McDowell’s account of reasons-acquisition can be likened to Descartes’ account of the acquisition of ideas, rather than to Kant’s theory of judgment as an act by means of which one’s cognition comes to be endowed with objective validity. However, unlike Descartes, McDowell does not acknowledge the skeptical challenge which his conception of reasons-acquisition might face. He contends that perception is factive without arguing for the background assumption (about a “perfect match” between mind and world) on which it rests. Hence, as I suggest in my article, the McDowellian claim that perception provides reasons for empirical beliefs is not sufficiently warranted.


Cite this article

Tomaszewska, Anna “McDowell and Perceptual Reasons.” Forum Philosophicum 17, no. 1 (2012): 73–88. doi:10.5840/forphil20121714.


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