Direct Realism

The notes are for the AS Philosophy unit 2 exam for AQA. A summary of the arguments which you can use for and against direct realism. 

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  • Created on: 20-05-12 18:29
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Point Rejoinder Rejoinder
1. It denies secondary qualities and Representative realist's argument for primary But, philosophical direct realists deny the
overcomes the problem of "the veil of and secondary qualities ­ secondary qualities distinction because some primary qualities
perception" and the subjectivity of experience.
are not constant (e.g. taste changes from are not constant e.g. solidity should be
Solipsism (all you can know is your own person to person and is subjective) whereas objective and inhere within the object but can
ideas) and scepticism is not a problem primary qualities such as mass are the same change when we melt a candle.
because everyone's perception of the world is
for everyone ­ part of "a view from nowhere"
the same. (Nagel) i.e. objective view of the world.
2. There are sceptical problems for direct We also cannot simply appeal to each other Hallucinations according to direct realists
realism as it cant account for differences in
to verify perception as we all might be must actually exist which is invalid. E.g. we
perception. E.g. Locke's blind man who does perceiving the world indirectly e.g. 2 people can have a hallucination that seems just like
not perceive the colour red as others do. Is a
may see a banana as yellow but this doesn't real life but this is not actually the case.
colour blind person's perception therefore verify that we see the banana as it really it,
wrong? No, therefore colour can't inhere directly.
within the object as DR claims. Philosophical Direct Realists claim that
Another sceptical argument is illusion. E.g.
illusion occurs due to a physical factor
according to the direct realist, when I see a
(explained by physics) that we are aware of in
bent stick in water, the stick is actually bent.
perception ­ the phenomenological fallacy
E.g. a stick appears bent due to refraction of
light not a mental episode of human error.
3. J. L. Austin (PDR) claims that This does not overcome the possibility that According to PDR: science can explain this
hallucinations are rare occurrences and they might exist. The possibility of a once again and can predict different
"scarcely worth observing". hallucination undermines the argument. perceptions.
Hallucinations only exist in the mind ­ gap
between appearance and reality (RR).
Another example of this gap is perspective
e.g. I perceive train tracks to narrow in the
distance but they don't actually. In addition,
colour varies e.g. Berkeley's clouds which
appear purple from a distance but aren't
4. Time lag argument creates a gap between Philosophical Direct Realists claim that when My perception of the sun is just based on
appearance and reality once again. E.g. we perceive things after a delay we don't sense data (RR), which is caused by the

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