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Depiction

Edited by Ben Blumson (National University of Singapore)
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Summary Depiction is a distinctive kind of representation. The paradigm examples are figurative painting and drawing. Other purported examples are photography, figurative sculpture and maps. The three main competitors to the traditional resemblance theory of depiction are experiential theories, such as the illusion and seeing-in theories, structural theories, which focus on syntactic and semantic properties of pictures such as analogicity, and recognition theories, which focus on subpersonal aspects of picture processing.
Key works The contemporary debate began with Goodman 1968, who argued for replacing the resemblance theory with a structural theory. Kulvicki 2006 defends a revised structural theory. The original source of the seeing-in theory is contained in Wollheim 1980. Walton 1990 defends a version according to which seeing-in is imagined seeing and Hopkins 1998 defends a version according to which it is experienced resemblance. Schier 1986 is the original source of the recognition theory. Currie 1995, Lopes 1996 and Newall 2011 defend similar accounts. Novitz 1977 and Hyman 2006 defend the resemblance theory. Abell & Bantinaki 2010 is a recent anthology.
Introductions Kulvicki 2006 Kulvicki 2013
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  1. C. Abell (2005). McIntosh's Unrealistic Picture of Peacocke and Hopkins on Realistic Pictures. British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (1):64-68.
    I defend Christopher Peacocke's and Robert Hopkins's experienced resemblance accounts of depiction against criticisms put forward by Gavin McIntosh in a recent article in this journal. I argue that, while there may be reasons for rejecting Peacocke's and Hopkins's accounts, McIntosh fails to provide any.
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  2. C. Abell & K. Bantinaki (eds.) (2010). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press.
    This volume of specially written essays by leading philosophers offers to set the agenda for the philosophy of depiction.
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  3. Catharine Abell (2013). Expression in the Representational Arts. American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (1):23-36.
    Understanding a work of representational art involves more than simply grasping what it represents. We can distinguish at least three types of content that representational works may possess. First, all representational works have explicit representational content. This includes the literal content of a linguistic work and the depictive content of a pictorial work. Second, they often have a conveyed content, which outstrips their explicit representational content, including much that is merely implicit in the work, and may exclude certain aspects of (...)
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  4. Catharine Abell (2010). Of Photographs. In Catharine Abell Katerina Bantinaki (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. 81.
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  5. Catharine Abell (2010). Cinema as a Representational Art. British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (3):273-286.
    In this paper, I develop a unified account of cinematic representation as primary depiction. On this account, cinematic representation is a distinctive form of depiction, unique in its capacity to depict temporal properties. I then explore the consequences of this account for the much-contested question of whether cinema is an independent representational art form. I show that it is, and that Scruton’s argument to the contrary relies on an erroneous conception of cinematic representation. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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  6. Catharine Abell (2010). The Epistemic Value of Photographs. In Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press.
    There is a variety of epistemic roles to which photographs are better suited than non-photographic pictures. Photographs provide more compelling evidence of the existence of the scenes they depict than non-photographic pictures. They are also better sources of information about features of those scenes that are easily overlooked. This chapter examines several different attempts to explain the distinctive epistemic value of photographs, and argues that none is adequate. It then proposes an alternative explanation of their epistemic value. The chapter argues (...)
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  7. Catharine Abell (2009). Canny Resemblance. Philosophical Review 118 (2):183-223.
    Depiction is the form of representation distinctive of figurative paintings, drawings, and photographs. Accounts of depiction attempt to specify the relation something must bear to an object in order to depict it. Resemblance accounts hold that the notion of resemblance is necessary to the specification of this relation. Several difficulties with such analyses have led many philosophers to reject the possibility of an adequate resemblance account of depiction. This essay outlines these difficulties and argues that current resemblance accounts succumb to (...)
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  8. Catharine Abell (2007). Pictorial Realism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):1 – 17.
    I propose a number of criteria for the adequacy of an account of pictorial realism. Such an account must: explain the epistemic significance of realistic pictures; explain why accuracy and detail are salient to realism; be consistent with an accurate account of depiction; and explain the features of pictorial realism. I identify six features of pictorial realism. I then propose an account of realism as a measure of the information pictures provide about how their objects would look, were one to (...)
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  9. Catharine Abell (2005). On Outlining the Shape of Depiction. Ratio 18 (1):27–38.
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  10. Catharine Abell (2005). Pictorial Implicature. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (1):55–66.
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  11. Zed Adams (2009). On Images: Their Structure and Content by Kulvicki, John. [REVIEW] Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67 (3):336-339.
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  12. Zed Adams (2007). The Objective Eye: Color, Form, and Reality in the Theory of Art by Hyman, John. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65 (4):417–419.
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  13. Virgil C. Aldrich (1980). Mirrors, Pictures, Words, Perceptions. Philosophy 55 (211):39 - 56.
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  14. Virgil C. Aldrich (1958). Picture Space. Philosophical Review 67 (3):342-352.
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  15. Virgil C. Aldrich (1948). Language, Experience, and Pictorial Meaning. Journal of Philosophy 45 (4):85-95.
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  16. Emmanuel Alloa (2011). Seeing-in, Seeing-as, Seeing-With: Looking Through Pictures. In Elisabeth Nemeth, Richard Heinrich, Wolfram Pichler & Wagner David (eds.), Image and Imaging in Philosophy, Science, and the Arts. Volume I. Proceedings of the 33rd International Wittgenstein Symposium. Ontos: 179-190.
    In the constitution of contemporary image theory, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy has undoubtedly become a major conceptual reference. Rather than trying to establish what Wittgenstein’s own image theory could possibly look like, this paper would like to critically assess some of the advantages as well as some of the quandaries that arise when using Wittgenstein’s concept of ‘seeing-as’ for addressing the plural realities of images. While putting into evidence the tensions that come into play when applying what was initially a theory (...)
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  17. Wittgenstein Anew & Art Scene (2010). ABELL, CATHERINE and BANTINAKI, KATERINA (Eds). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction.(Oxford: Oxford University Press). 2010. Pp. 256.£ 40.00 (Hbk). BENJAMIN, ANDREW. Of Jews and Animals.(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press). 2010. Pp. 224.£ 65.00 (Hbk). [REVIEW] British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (4).
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  18. John Armstrong (2006). Depiction and the Sense of Reality. Contemporary Aesthetics 4.
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  19. John Armstrong (1997). Non-Depicted Content and Pictorial Ambition. British Journal of Aesthetics 37 (4):336-348.
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  20. Kent Bach (1970). Part of What a Picture Is. British Journal of Aesthetics 10 (2):119-137.
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  21. George Bailey (1993). Pictorial Quotation. International Studies in Philosophy 25 (1):1-8.
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  22. K. Bantinaki (2008). Review: John V. Kulvicki: On Images: Their Structure and Content. [REVIEW] Mind 117 (466):486-490.
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  23. Katerina Bantinaki (2012). Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1):114 - 118.
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 26, Issue 1, Page 114-118, March 2012.
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  24. Katerina Bantinaki (2010). Pictorial Perception as Twofold Experience. In Catharine Abell Katerina Bantinaki (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oup Oxford.
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  25. Katerina Bantinaki (2008). The Opticality of Pictorial Representation. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (2):183–192.
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  26. Katerina Bantinaki (2007). Pictorial Perception as Illusion. British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (3):268-279.
    The focus of this paper is on E. H. Gombrich's claim that pictorial perception is a case of illusion. My aim is to point out that, on the one hand, the interpretation of this claim that is widely accepted in pictorial theory is not supported by Gombrich's analysis of pictorial perception; and, on the other hand, that the interpretation of the claim that I see as more compatible with Gombrich's analysis is not consistent with relevant facts about our relation to (...)
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  27. Katerina Bantinaki (2006). Review of Dominic Mciver Lopes, Sight and Sensibility: Evaluating Pictures. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (4).
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  28. Axel Barceló Aspeitia (2012). Words and Images in Argumentation. Argumentation 26 (3):355-368.
    Abstract In this essay, I will argue that images can play a substantial role in argumentation: exploiting information from the context, they can contribute directly and substantially to the communication of the propositions that play the roles of premises and conclusion. Furthermore, they can achieve this directly, i.e. without the need of verbalization. I will ground this claim by presenting and analyzing some arguments where images are essential to the argumentation process. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s10503-011-9259-y Authors (...)
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  29. J. D. Bastable (1959). Pictorial History of Philosophy. Philosophical Studies 9:269-270.
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  30. Andras Benedek & Kristof Nyiri (eds.) (2013). How To Do Things With Pictures: Skill, Practice, Performance. Peter Lang Edition.
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  31. John G. Bennett (1974). Depiction and Convention. The Monist 58 (2):255-268.
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  32. Jiri Benovsky (2012). Photographic Representation and Depiction of Temporal Extension. Inquiry 55 (2):194-213.
    The main task of this paper is to understand if and how static images like photographs can represent and/or depict temporal extension (duration). In order to do this, a detour will be necessary to understand some features of the nature of photographic representation and depiction in general. This important detour will enable us to see that photographs (can) have a narrative content, and that the skilled photographer can 'tell a story' in a very clear sense, as well as control and (...)
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  33. James A. Blachowicz (1997). Analog Representation Beyond Mental Imagery. Journal of Philosophy 94 (2):55-84.
  34. David Blinder (1986). In Defense of Pictorial Mimesis. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 45 (1):19-27.
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  35. H. Gene Blocker (1977). Pictures and Photographs. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36 (2):155-162.
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  36. Ben Blumson, Depiction with Resemblance.
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  37. Ben Blumson, Pictures and Properties.
    It’s a platitude that a picture is realistic to the degree to which it resembles what it represents (in relevant respects). But if properties are abundant and degrees of resemblance are proportions of properties in common, then the degree of resemblance between different particulars is constant (or undefined), which is inconsonant with the platitude. This paper argues this problem should be resolved by revising the analysis of degrees of resemblance in terms of proportion of properties in common, and not by (...)
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  38. Ben Blumson, Interpreting Images.
    Just as it’s possible to understand novel sentences without having heard them before, it’s possible to understand novel pictures without have seen them before. But these possibilities are traditionally supposed to have very different explanations: whereas the possibility of understanding novel sentences is supposed to be explained by their compositional structure, the possibility of understanding novel depictions is supposed not to be. In this paper, I argue against this disanalogy: the possibility of understanding both some, but not all, novel sentences (...)
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  39. Ben Blumson, Depiction and Composition.
    Traditionally, the structure of a language is revealed by constructing an appropriate theory of meaning for that language, which exhibits how – and whether – the meaning of sentences in the language depends upon the meaning of their parts. In this paper, I argue that whether – and how – what pictures represent depends on what their parts represent should likewise by revealed by the construction of appropriate theories of representation for the symbol system of those pictures. This generalisation, I (...)
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  40. Ben Blumson (2012). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):187 - 189.
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Volume 90, Issue 1, Page 187-189, March 2012.
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  41. Ben Blumson (2011). Depictive Structure? Philosophical Papers 40 (1):1-25.
    This paper argues against definitions of depiction in terms of the syntactic and semantic properties of symbol systems. In particular, it is argued that John Kulvicki's definition of depictive symbol systems in terms of relative repleteness, semantic richness, syntactic sensitivity and transparency is susceptible to similar counterexamples as Nelson Goodman's in terms of syntactic density, semantic density and relative repleteness. The general moral drawn is that defining depiction requires attention not merely to descriptive questions about syntax and semantics, but also (...)
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  42. Ben Blumson (2010). Maps and Meaning. Journal of Philosophical Research 35:123-128.
    It's possible to understand an infinite number of novel maps. I argue that Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi's compositional semantics of maps cannot explain this possibility, because it requires an infinite number of semantic primitives. So the semantics of maps is puzzlingly different from the semantics of language.
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  43. Ben Blumson (2010). Pictures, Perspective and Possibility. Philosophical Studies 149 (2):135 - 151.
    This paper argues for a possible worlds theory of the content of pictures, with three complications: depictive content is centred, two-dimensional and structured. The paper argues that this theory supports a strong analogy between depictive and other kinds of representation and the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance.
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  44. Ben Blumson (2009). Defining Depiction. British Journal of Aesthetics 49 (2):143-157.
    It is a platitude that whereas language is mediated by convention, depiction is mediated by resemblance. But this platitude may be attacked on the grounds that resemblance is either insufficient for or incidental to depictive representation. I defend common sense from this attack by using Grice's analysis of meaning to specify the non-incidental role of resemblance in depictive representation.
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  45. Ben Blumson (2009). Images, Intentionality and Inexistence. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):522-538.
    The possibilities of depicting non-existents, depicting non-particulars and depictive misrepresentation are frequently cited as grounds for denying the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance. I first argue that these problems are really a manifestation of the more general problem of intentionality. I then show how there is a plausible solution to the general problem of intentionality which is consonant with the platitude.
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  46. Ben Blumson (2008). Depiction and Convention. Dialectica 62 (3):335-348.
    By defining both depictive and linguistic representation as kinds of symbol system, Nelson Goodman attempts to undermine the platitude that, whereas linguistic representation is mediated by convention, depiction is mediated by resemblance. I argue that Goodman is right to draw a strong analogy between the two kinds of representation, but wrong to draw the counterintuitive conclusion that depiction is not mediated by resemblance.
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  47. Jochen Briesen (2014). Pictorial Art and Epistemic Aims. In Harald Klinke (ed.), Art Theory as Visual Epistemology. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 11-28.
    The question whether art is of any epistemic value is an old question in the philosophy of art. Whereas many contemporary artists, art-critics, and art-historians answer this question affirmatively, many contemporary philosophers remain skeptical. If art is of epistemic significance, they maintain, then it has to contribute to our quest of achieving our most basic epistemic aim, namely knowledge.Unfortunately, recent and widely accepted analyses of knowledge make it very hard to see how art might significantly contribute to the quest of (...)
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  48. Nico Brömßer (2013). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. British Journal of Aesthetics 53 (3):373-376.
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  49. N. Bromsser (2013). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. British Journal of Aesthetics 53 (3):373-376.
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  50. Ben Bronner, Maps and Absent Symbols (Extended Version).
    This is the extended version of a paper forthcoming in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
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