Philosophy 290-3

Fall 2018

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-3 Graduate Seminar: Arguments from Illusion Martin W 2-4 Moses 234

Forty years ago, in ‘Conflicting Appearances’, Myles Burnyeat sought to provide a synoptic overview of the history of arguments from illusion, and the surprising persistence of this mode of debate in Western philosophy. One of Burnyeat’s targets was JL Austin, who had presented one of the most notorious attacks on the argument from illusion in Berkeley a quarter of a century before, the lectures posthumously published as Sense & Sensibilia.

Burnyeat agreed with Austin that arguments from illusion lack cogency. But he found lacking Austin’s preparedness to explain the persisting attractions of this trope.

Does Burnyeat’s diagnosis of the problem carry conviction, though?

Starting out from Burnyeat’s own discussions, we’ll look at examples of the arguments from conflicting appearances/argument from illusion from early Modern philosophy, to early Analytic, to more recent debates.

With Burnyeat, we’ll be concerned with what further assumptions might be in play, and what further costs derive from these inexplicit additional commitments.