I'll be presenting a new essay at the Philosophy of Science Association meeting in San Diego on Friday in the morning sessions. I've been drafting it out since 2010, in various shapes and lengths, and I presented it orally in 2011 at UMSL, but the thing always seems to crumble in my hands, and until now I haven't been comfortable posting a circulating draft. However, by stripping it down to 2000 words for a brief oral presentation, I can conveniently decline to delve into the issues that keep stymieing me and present the core idea fairly simply, I hope, with a couple of examples.
Abstract: If Locke is right, when I visually experience a cubical thing and judge rightly that it is in fact a cube, then there is a mind-independent thing out there the shape of which in some important way resembles my experience of its shape. If Kant is right, in contrast, we have no good reason to think that things in themselves are cubical; there's nothing independent of the human mind that has cubical properties that resemble the properties of my visual experience of cubes. I believe we can start to get a handle on this dispute empirically through introspection. Suppose that there are multiple different ways of veridically experiencing the same object and that it can sometimes be the case that there's no good reason to think that one of the two different experiences more closely resembles things as they are in themselves. It would then seem to follow that there's a kind of looseness between features of experience and features of things in themselves. Things in themselves might be more like this or they might be more like that or somewhere in between; but we can no longer say that we know they are like this -- a miniature Kantian victory over Locke. And then the question would be: How far can we push this type of argument? In this paper, I consider two test cases: convex passenger-side car mirrors and inverting lenses of the sort invented by George Stratton.
Full paper here. As always, comments and criticisms welcome, either on this post or by email.