On Seeing That Someone is Angry
Article first published online: 6 JUL 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
European Journal of Philosophy
Volume 20, Issue 4, pages 575–597, December 2012
How to Cite
McNeill, W. E. S. (2012), On Seeing That Someone is Angry. European Journal of Philosophy, 20: 575–597. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0378.2010.00421.x
- Issue published online: 21 NOV 2012
- Article first published online: 6 JUL 2010
Abstract: Some propose that the question of how you know that James is angry can be adequately answered with the claim that you see that James is angry. Call this the Perceptual Hypothesis. Here, I examine that hypothesis.
I argue that there are two different ways in which the Perceptual Hypothesis could be made true. You might see that James is angry by seeing his bodily features. Alternatively, you might see that James is angry by seeing his anger. If you see that James is angry in the first way, your knowledge is inferential. If you see that James is angry in the second way, your knowledge is not inferential. These are different ways of knowing that James is angry. So the Perceptual Hypothesis alone does not adequately answer the question of how you know that fact. To ascertain how you know it, we need to decide whether or not you saw his anger.
This is an epistemological argument. But it has consequences for a theory of perception. It implies that there is a determinate fact about which features of an object you see. This fact is made true independently of what you come to know by seeing.
In the final section of the paper, I seek to undermine various ways in which the claim that you see James' anger may be thought implausible.