Having a Taste for What’s There

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Title: Having a Taste for What’s There
Author: Keough, Sydney
Advisor: Yurdin, Joel; Macbeth, Danielle
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Philosophy
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: A great deal of philosophical anxiety has fixated on the notorious fact that the world does not always match our experience of it. Conversely, little attention has been paid to the equally interesting and similarly difficult phenomenon of expert perception—the ability to train one’s perceptual sensitivity. In this essay, I analyze the perceptual expertise of tea-tasters and argue that their privileged gustatory standing reveals episodes of perception to be the potentially skilled exercises of a power to take in how things are with the sensible world. This view of expert perception poses an explanatory challenge for both internalist and externalist pictures of mentality—the two of which grow up out of a concern with preserving our perceptual access to the world while simultaneously accounting for the fallibility of this access. This gestures at the possibility that a satisfying account of expert perception requires explanatory work to be done by both the ‘internal’ development of our perceptual mental states and by the world figuring as a constituent of those states. I contend that, should naïve realism adopt the notion that perceptual experience is conceptually articulated, it will be furnished with the resources necessary to answer expert perception’s challenge to externalism.
Subject: Expertise -- Philosophy
Subject: Tea tasting
Subject: Perception (Philosophy)
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Keough, Sydney. "Having a Taste for What’s There". 2011. Available electronically from

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