Dreaming, Phenomenal Character, and Acquaintance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Dreams are often defined as sleeping experiences with phenomenal character similar to, and perhaps sometimes indistinguishable from, the phenomenal character of perceptions of the real world. But they do not involve a relation of acquaintance to anything outside the mind. Hence they pose a prima facie challenge to accounts of phenomenal character in terms of acquaintance relations. One response is disjunctivist: to give a different account of their phenomenal character from that of successful perceivings. I argue that this weakens the explanatory value of the acquaintance account of the phenomenal character of successful perceivings. Another response is to deny that dreaming has phenomenal character at all: there is then no need to give an alternative to the acquaintance account of phenomenal character. I present an alternative model of dreams which has this consequence and argue that in the face of the alternative model, we lack theory neutral evidence of the phenomenal character of dreams and thus it is legitimate to choose between theories of dreaming on the basis of their fit with our best theory of the phenomenal character of successful perceivings, namely acquaintance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcquaintance
Subtitle of host publicationnew essays
EditorsJonathan Knowles, Thomas Raleigh
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780198803461
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2019

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