Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 3, pp 563–585 | Cite as

Perception and observation unladened

  • Ioannis Votsis


Let us call ‘veridicalism’ the view that perceptual beliefs and observational reports are largely truthful. This paper aims to make a case for veridicalism by, among other things, examining in detail and ultimately deflating in import what many consider to be the view’s greatest threat, the so-called ‘theory-ladenness’ of perception and/or observation. In what follows, it is argued that to the extent that theoretical factors influence the formation of perceptual beliefs and observational reports, as theory-ladenness demands, that influence is typically not detrimental to their veridicality or at least not irreversibly so. Central to the defence of veridicalism are two principles: that of internal similarities and that of internal dissimilarities.


Theory-laden Perception Observation Evidence 



In the process of writing this paper I benefited from discussions with, and I am therefore thankful to, a number of people at various universities, including research seminars at LSE, Bristol, Leeds, Oxford, Rotterdam, Duesseldorf and Pittsburgh, where I presented related material. Particular thanks are due also to an anonymous referee for their detailed and useful feedback. I gratefully acknowledge the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) for funding my research under project B4 of Collaborative Research Centre 991: The Structure of Representations in Language, Cognition, and Science. Part of this paper has been written while working on the project ‘Aspects and Prospects of Realism in the Philosophy of Science and Mathematics’ (APRePoSMa) during a visiting fellowship at the University of Athens. The project and my visits are co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund—ESF) and Greek national funds through the Operational Program ‘Education and Lifelong Learning’ of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)—Research Funding Program: THALIS—UOA.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duesseldorf Center for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of DuesseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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