chapter  9
26 Pages

Sense-data and the Physical World

Given that we have established the existence of sense-data, there now arises the question of their relation to the physical world. There are two generic types of theory that claim to answer this question. According to one group of theories, sense-data are caused by, and, in some sense, represent the physical world. According to the other group, the physical world is no more than the experiences-actual or actual and possible-that conscious subjects can have of it. In this chapter I shall investigate versions of both representative realism and phenomenalism/idealism and defend them both against certain standard objections.1 I shall suggest that the phenomenalist and idealist theories have some important advantages over representative realism, but this conclusion will be tentative because this book is concerned with the philosophy of perception not, essentially, with the nature of the physical world.