Disjunctivism: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


1st Edition

By Matthew Soteriou


228 pages

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It is commonly held that the experiences involved in cases of perception, illusion and hallucination all have the same nature. Disjunctivists deny this. They maintain that the kind of experience you have when you perceive the world isn’t one you could be having if you were hallucinating. A number of important debates in the philosophy of mind and epistemology turn on the question of whether this disjunctivist view is tenable.

This is the first book-length introduction to this contested issue. Matthew Soteriou explains the accounts of perception that disjunctivists seek to defend, such as naïve realism, and the accounts to which they are opposed, such as sense-datum theories and representationalist theories. He goes on to introduce and assess key questions that arise in these debates:

  • Is disjunctivism consistent with what has been established by the science of perception?
  • Does introspective reflection support naïve realism?
  • Can disjunctivism be motivated by appeal to the role that perception plays in enabling us to think demonstratively about mind-independent objects and qualities in our environment?
  • Does disjunctivism offer the best account of perceptual knowledge?
  • What can disjunctivists say about the nature of hallucination and illusion?

Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary, this book is an ideal starting point for anyone studying disjunctivism for the first time, as well as for more advanced students and researchers.


'… Soteriou carefully lays out the motivations behind disjunctive accounts of perceptual experience and discusses in detail their contribution to advancing traditional and current debates about the nature and role of perception. … [The book] offers the first systematic and in-depth introduction to the central themes and protagonists of one of the most controversial and debated theories of perception of the past decades. Postgraduate and advanced undergraduate students will benefit from the book both as a standalone overview of disjunctivism and as critical companion to some of its central texts. … More experienced researchers will also benefit from Soteriou’s analysis of a number of controversial issues at the focus of current debates on disjunctivism … .' - Simone Marini, International Journal of Philosophical Studies

'Disjunctivism is a limpid, comprehensive, and authoritative introduction to a central topic in the philosophy of perception. Students can’t do better than start with Soteriou’s book, and specialists will also find it invaluable.' - Alex Byrne, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

'How should illusions and hallucinations shape our theory of perception? Soteriou guides us skillfully through the depths of this question, and brings to life philosophers' attempts to understand our most fundamental connection with reality. This book is an insightful introduction to the philosophy of perception.' - Susanna Siegel, Harvard University, USA

'An outstanding example of philosophical writing. Soteriou examines in a sophisticated yet clear way the current discussions of disjunctivism, putting the view into complex dialectical relation with sense-data and intentionalist accounts of perception. If one wants to understand contemporary debates in the philosophy of perception one could not do better than to read this book.' - Steven Levine, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

Table of Contents


1. Sense-datum Theories and the Argument from Hallucination

2. Representational Content, the Science of Perception, and Disjunctivism about Conscious Character

3. Does Introspective Reflection Support Naïve Realism?

4. Naïve Realism, Perceptual Acquaintance, and Perceptually-based Thought

5. Epistemological Disjunctivism

6. Disjunctivist accounts of Hallucination and Illusion

7. Varieties of Disjunctivism.



About the Author

Matthew Soteriou is a professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, UK. He is the author of The Mind’s Construction: The Ontology of Mind and Mental Action (2013), and co-editor (with Lucy O’Brien) of Mental Actions (2009).

About the Series

New Problems of Philosophy

New Problems of Philosophy

Series Editor: José Luis Bermúdez, Texas A&M University

'Routledge's New Problems of Philosophy series has a most impressive line-up of topical volumes aimed at upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy and at others with interests in cutting edge philosophical work. The authors are influential figures in their respective fields and notably adept at synthesizing and explaining intricate topics fairly and comprehensively.' - John Heil, Monash University, Australia, and Washington University, St Louis, USA

'This is an outstanding collection of volumes. The topics are well chosen and the authors are outstanding. They will be fine texts in a wide range of courses.' - Stephen Stich, Rutgers University, USA

The New Problems of Philosophy series provides accessible and engaging surveys of the most important problems in contemporary philosophy. Each book examines a topic or theme that has emerged on the philosophical landscape in recent years, or that is a longstanding problem refreshed in light of recent work in philosophy and related disciplines. Clearly explaining the nature of the problem at hand and assessing attempts to answer it, books in the series are excellent starting-points for undergraduate and graduate students wishing to study a single topic in depth. They will also be essential reading for professional philosophers. Additional features include chapter summaries, further reading, and a glossary of technical terms.

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