Philosophy ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-14-2018


In this dissertation, I focus on the epistemological concerns regarding a disjunctivist theory of perception. More specifically, I focus on a critique of epistemological disjunctivism, a thesis about how our beliefs about the world are supported by perception. In order to explain the possibility of perceptual knowledge, an epistemological disjunctivist argues that one’s epistemic support in a good case, seeing that p (e.g., seeing that there is a lemon on the table), is different in kind from one’s epistemic support in a bad case, seeming to see that p (e.g., seeming to see that there is a lemon on the table). What I present here is the background motivations that support such a position and show that the theory faces various problems and may not clearly offer an adequate account of perceptual knowledge. By providing a critique of epistemological disjunctivism, I aim to show that it may not provide a better position than an alternate, empirically plausible, non-disjunctivist position in accounting for perceptual knowledge. This dissertation constitutes a substantial beginning to this project.

The focus of this dissertation addresses a central issue: It considers whether epistemological disjunctivism adequately provides an account of perceptual knowledge against skeptical concerns. I devote four chapters of the dissertation in formulating a critique of the most prominent accounts of epistemological disjunctivism. Since there has been an increased interest in knowledge-first epistemology, I include an addendum discussing a knowledge-first epistemological disjunctivist account and its merits and contrast that with a knowledge-first virtue epistemology position.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Kelly Becker

Second Committee Member

Paul M. Livingston

Third Committee Member

Barbara Hannan

Fourth Committee Member

Tim Black


epistemological disjunctivism, perception, disjunctivism

Document Type


Included in

Philosophy Commons