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Paper   IPM / Philosophy / 13816
School of Analytic Philosophy
  Title:   Cognitive Penetration, the Downgrade Principle, and Extended Cognition
  Author(s):  Hamid Vahid
  Status:   Published
  Journal: Philosophical Issues (Noûs)
  No.:  1
  Vol.:  24
  Year:  2014
  Pages:   439-459
  Supported by:  IPM
  Abstract:
It has been argued that just as, say, prejudice or wishful thinking can generate ill-founded beliefs, the same is true of experiences. The idea is that the etiology of cognitively penetrated experiences can downgrade their justificatory force. This view, known as the Downgrade Principle, seems to be compatible with both internalist and externalist conceptions of epistemic justification. An assessment of the credentials of the Downgrade Principle is particularly important in view of the fact that not all cases of cognitive penetration are epistemically malignant. There are good and bad cases of cognitive penetration. I argue that a proper assessment of the Downgrade Principle will have to address two fundamental questions. I identify two general ways of responding to these questions and show why they fail. It will be maintained that an explanationist conception of justification has a better chance of accounting for the distinction between good and bad cases of cognitive penetration. The Downgrade Principle is then discussed in the context of the extended cognition thesis (ECT). In particular, I look at the sensorimotor theory of perception, as a way of broadening the scope of (ECT) to include conscious perceptual experience, that sees senses as ways of exploring the environment mediated by different patterns of sensorimotor contingency. I suggest possible ways in which one could distinguish between good and bad cases of cognitive penetration on such a view compatible with the explanationist view of epistemic justification.

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