Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Experience and Belief: An Inquiry Into the Doxastic Variability of Experience

Rosenhagen, Tom Raja (2018) Experience and Belief: An Inquiry Into the Doxastic Variability of Experience. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

This is the latest version of this item.

Download (2MB) | Preview


If what we believe can directly modify our (visual) experience, our experience is doxastically variable. If so, the following seems possible: our false and irrational background beliefs can modify our experience such that in it, things look distorted, or that it conforms with and appears to confirm the false and irrational beliefs that helped bring it about in the first place. If experience is doxastically variable, it seems, its epistemic function can be undermined.
However, in this dissertation, I argue that we can devise accounts of (visual) experience that meet two requirements: they are fully compatible with all kinds of doxastic variation and on them, even doxastically variable experience serves to rationally constrain our beliefs.
I begin with a novel interpretation of Hanson’s account of theory-laden observation—a valiant, yet ultimately unsuccessful attempt to meet both these requirements. Next, I analyze and reject various contemporary relationalist accounts of experience and the most sophisticated recent representationalist attempt to accommodate phenomena of doxastic variation: Siegel’s (Rich) Content View. Then, based on the lessons learned and drawing on Hanson’s and Gupta’s work, I show what shape a successful account may take.
Ultimately, I argue for the following theses: 1) Neither of the two dominant accounts of experience—relationalism and standard representationalism—currently succeeds in satisfactorily meeting both requirements. 2) To arrive at accounts that do meet them, we should drop both the restrictive relationalist conception of experience as a relation to mind-independent items and the standard representationalist conception of experience as justifying beliefs. 3) We make progress by adopting both the general conception of experience as making rational transitions to beliefs, judgments, and actions and a (slightly) modified version of Gupta’s presentationalist account of experiential phenomenology. Finally, 4) the possibility of devising successful accounts is independent of a major issue dividing relationalists and representationalists: whether experience has content.
In the final chapters, I address various follow-up questions concerning the nature of views, conceptual capacities, conceptual content, and linkages between a subject’s experience and her responses. In concluding, I show that the account of experience I recommend is widely applicable in philosophy and beyond.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rosenhagen, Tom Rajaraja.rosenhagen@gmail.comtrr390000-0002-1348-5196
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGupta, Anilagupta@pitt.eduagupta
Committee MemberMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.edujmcdowel
Committee MemberBrandom, Robertrbrandom@pitt.edurbrandom
Committee MemberMachery, Edouardmachery@pitt.edumachery
Date: 27 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 21 June 2018
Approval Date: 27 September 2018
Submission Date: 2 August 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 399
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Experience, Doxastic Variability, Cognitive Penetration, Observation, Theory-Ladenness, Rational Role of Experience
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2018 20:20
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2018 20:20

Available Versions of this Item

  • Experience and Belief: An Inquiry Into the Doxastic Variability of Experience. (deposited 27 Sep 2018 20:20) [Currently Displayed]


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item