In Defence of a Doxastic Account of Experience



    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Philosophy
      Stockholm University
      Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.
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  • Parts of this material have been presented at NYU, the CUNY Graduate Center, LOGOS in Barcelona, the Perception and Introspection workshop in Glasgow, the Czech Academy of Sciences, and Lund, Gothenburg, Umeå and Oslo Universities. I would like to thank participants of all these occasions for helpful comments, especially Paul Boghossian, Michael Devitt, Kati Farkas, Manuel Garcí a-Carpintero, Olav Gjelsvik, Paul Horwich, Max Kölbel, Marie Lundstedt, Helge Malmgren, Genoveva Marti, Teresa Marques, Fiona Mcpherson, Jim Pryor, Sven Rosenkranz, Camilla Serck-Hanssen, Susanna Siegel, Barry Smith, Pär Sundström, and Dag Westerståhl. Special thanks, as always, to Peter Pagin and Åsa Wikforss. Special thanks also to Tim Crane and an anonymous referee for this journal. Research funded by the Swedish Research Council VR (project no. 2005-869) and the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (grant no. SAB2006-0056).

Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


Today, many philosophers think that perceptual experiences are conscious mental states with representational content and phenomenal character. Subscribers to this view often go on to construe experience more precisely as a propositional attitude sui generis ascribing sensible properties to ordinary material objects. I argue that experience is better construed as a kind of belief ascribing ‘phenomenal’ properties to such objects. A belief theory of this kind deals as well with the traditional arguments against doxastic accounts as the sui generis view. Moreover, in contrast to sui generis views, it can quite easily account for the rational or reason providing role of experience.