AuthorPoulsen, Rachel J.
AdvisorPollock, John L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWhat is 'given in experience' is the phenomenal character that is immediately available to the conscious subject when she senses. The doctrine of the given is the view that what is given in our experience may play a foundational role in our knowledge. This doctrine of the given has been rejected by some as a 'myth.' The aim of my dissertation is to develop a notion of the given that is theoretically useful in an account of knowledge and that withstands the various attacks that have traditionally been logged against it. In chapter one I offer a brief historical overview of the given, considering motivations for accepting such a notion and identifying six central features that have been traditionally attributed to the given. In chapter two I consider and respond to arguments against the given as they are logged against each of these six central features. In chapter three I consider the major argument against the given that will occupy my attention throughout the rest of the work. This argument contends that the given cannot play a foundational role in knowledge and rests primarily on a crucial assumption, the conceptualist thesis. The conceptualist thesis states that nothing can epistemically contribute to the acquisition or justification of knowledge that is not essentially conceptual or belief-like. Chapters four through seven are aimed at arguing against the conceptualist thesis. In chapter four I consider the major arguments in favor of the conceptualist thesis. I demonstrate that these arguments are faulty or misguided. In chapter five I consider alternative views that suppose experience to be essentially and necessarily conceptual. I offer objections to such views and show that the flaws in these views are the result of the mistaken assumption of the conceptualist thesis. In chapter six I discuss what is represented non-conceptually in experience. Given the representational nature of experience I show how a non-conceptual given can play an epistemic role in our acquisition of both introspective and perceptual knowledge. In chapter seven I show how a non-conceptual given can provide reasons or justification for both introspective and perceptual beliefs.
Degree ProgramGraduate College