A notable development in recent philosophy is the rise to prominence of the idea that we should offer a disjunctive account of a given subject-matter. This idea – often called ‘disjunctivism’ – became well known with work in the philosophy of perception by J. M. Hinton, Paul Snowdon and John McDowell. Today, interest in perceptual disjunctivism is greater than ever – as a recent issue of Philosophical Studies (Volume 120, Issue 1-3, 2004), given over to the idea, attests. Disjunctive accounts are also a feature of recent work in the philosophy of action (by, amongst others, Bill Brewer, Jennifer Hornsby and David-Hillel Ruben) and in epistemology. Indeed, it is an often overlooked fact that the first disjunctive accounts of any subject matter can be traced to the epistemological writings of J. Cook Wilson and H. M. Prichard.
This conference seeks to address two issues. The first is how disjunctive accounts ought to be formulated. There is little consensus on this matter, in part because different formulations appear to reflect different philosophical aims. Within the philosophy of perception, for example, it seems that Snowdon and Michael Martin see their disjunctive accounts primarily as accounts of the nature of perceptual experience, whereas McDowell sees his form of perceptual disjunctivism in broadly epistemological terms. To what extent these motivations are distinct, and to what extent the resulting accounts are dissimilar, are crucial issues worthy of clarification.
The second issue is whether there is any reason to accept disjunctivism, in any of its forms. Disjunctivism promises to alter fundamentally certain dominant conceptions within numerous areas of philosophical concern, including: the nature of the content of experience, the correct response to the skeptic, the nature of warrant, and the shape of various internalism/externalism debates. We hope that the conference will help to advance our understanding of these and related issues.
The conference seeks to bring together some of the most prominent writers on disjunctivism in an attempt to explore its implications for our understanding of perception, action, and knowledge. It should interest people working in all of these fields, and should be of particular interest to those working at the interface of issues in epistemology and the philosophy of mind.