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Summary Which properties are we presented with in perception? In vision, do we consciously see just color, shape, illumination, and motion, or can we visually experience more complex properties such as kinds, causation, and personal identity? The main issue concerns how rich or impoverished perceptual contents are. This issue bears on the role of contents of perception in providing rational support for beliefs. If perceptual experiences suggest a range of propositions that are candidates for being justified by those experiences, then the  propositions in this range will be influenced by the contents perception can have. Some skeptical challenges may rely on the relative impoverishment of contents. If contents can be more complex, then we can ask how perceptual experience come to have such contents, and whether other mental states besides input systems traditionally categorized as part of perception can influence perceptual contents.  The issue also bears on the role perceptual experience in guiding action. Which actions an experience is poised to guide will depend on which properties that experience presents. It also raises the possibility that experiences could have imperative contents, rather than just indicative contents - a possibility explored in the philosophical literature on the pain.
Key works Peacocke 1992 introduced in passing some examples of complex contents. Siegel 2006 invigorated contemporary discussion issue by defending the view that contents of visual experience can be complex enough to include kind properties.Siegel 2010 makes the case that visual experiences can represent kinds, causal properties, certain perceptual relations, and personal identity, defends a method for deciding the question, and presents a framework for addressing the issue in terms of accuracy conditions.  Prinz 2002 and Prinz 2013 each make a case against the thesis that experiences can present high-level contents. Butterfill 2009 discusses the cases of visually experiencing causation.Church 2010 and McDowell 1984 discuss perception of moral properties.Bayne 2009 relates the issue to the experience of agency and to cognitive phenomenology. Logue 2013 questions whether the issue can be decided either way.
Introductions Siegel 2006; Millar 2000; Bayne 2009.
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  1. Sean Allen-Hermanson & Jennifer Matey (2012). Synesthesia. In J. Feiser & B. Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  2. Irene Appelbaum (1998). Fodor, Modularity, and Speech Perception. Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):317-330.
    Fodor argues that speech perception is accomplished by a module. Typically, modular processing is taken to be bottom-up processing. Yet there is ubiquitous empirical evidence that speech perception is influenced by top-down processing. Fodor attempts to resolve this conflict by denying that modular processing must be exclusively bottom-up. It is argued, however, that Fodor's attempt to reconcile top-down and modular processing fails, because: (i) it undermines Fodor's own conception of modular processing; and (ii) it cannot account for the contextually varying (...)
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  3. Pierfrancesco Basile (2007). Subjectivity, Process, and Rationality (Process Thought, Volume 14). Heusenstamm Bei Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.
    PROCESS THOUGHT Edited by Nicholas Rescher • Johanna Seibt • Michel Weber Advisory Board Mark Bickhard • Jaime Nubiola • Roberto Poli Volume 14 ...
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  4. Tim Bayne (2011). The Sense of Agency. In Fiona Macpherson (ed.), The Senses: Classic and Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives.
    Where in cognitive architecture do experiences of agency lie? This chapter defends the claim that such states qualify as a species of perception. Reference to ‘the sense of agency’ should not be taken as a mere façon de parler but picks out a genuinely perceptual system. The chapter begins by outlining the perceptual model of agentive experience before turning to its two main rivals: the doxastic model, according to which agentive experience is really a species of belief, and the telic (...)
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  5. Tim Bayne (2009). Perception and the Reach of Phenomenal Content. Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236):385-404.
    The phenomenal character of perceptual experience involves the representation of colour, shape and motion. Does it also involve the representation of high-level categories? Is the recognition of a tomato as a tomato contained within perceptual phenomenality? Proponents of a conservative view of the reach of phenomenal content say 'No', whereas those who take a liberal view of perceptual phenomenality say 'Yes'. I clarify the debate between conservatives and liberals, and argue in favour of the liberal view that high-level content can (...)
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  6. Tim Bayne (2009). Perception and the Reach of Phenomenal Content. Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236):385-404.
    The phenomenal character of perceptual experience involves the representation of colour, shape and motion. Does it also involve the representation of high-level categories? Is the recognition of a tomato as a tomato contained within perceptual phenomenality? Proponents of a conservative view of the reach of phenomenal content say ’No’, whereas those who take a liberal view of perceptual phenomenality say ’Yes’. I clarify the debate between conservatives and liberals, and argue in favour of the liberal view that high-level content can (...)
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  7. Tim Bayne (2008). The Phenomenology of Agency. Philosophy Compass 3 (1):182-202.
    The phenomenology of agency has, until recently, been rather neglected, overlooked by both philosophers of action and philosophers of consciousness alike. Thankfully, all that has changed, and of late there has been an explosion of interest in what it is like to be an agent. 1 This burgeoning field crosses the traditional boundaries between disciplines: philosophers of psychopathology are speculating about the role that unusual experiences of agency might play in accounting for disorders of thought and action; cognitive scientists are (...)
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  8. Helen Beebee (2003). Seeing Causing. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (3):257-280.
    Singularists about causation often claim that we can have experiences as of causation. This paper argues that regularity theorists need not deny that claim; hence the possibility of causal experience is no objection to regularity theories of causation. The fact that, according to a regularity theorist, causal experience requires background theory does not provide grounds for denying that it is genuine experience. The regularity theorist need not even deny that non-inferential perceptual knowledge of causation is possible, despite the fact that (...)
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  9. Robert Briscoe (forthcoming). Cognitive Penetration and the Reach of Phenomenal Content. In Athanassios Raftopoulos & John Zeimbekis (eds.), Cognitive Penetrability. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter critically assesses recent arguments that acquiring the ability to categorize an object as belonging to a certain high-level kind can cause the relevant kind property to be represented in visual phenomenal content. The first two arguments, developed respectively by Susanna Siegel (2010) and Tim Bayne (2009), employ an essentially phenomenological methodology. The third argument, developed by William Fish (2013), by contrast, is supported by an array of psychophysical and neuroscientific findings. I argue that while none of these arguments (...)
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  10. Berit Brogaard (2013). Do We Perceive Natural Kind Properties? Philosophical Studies 162 (1):35 - 42.
    I respond to three arguments aimed at establishing that natural kind properties occur in the experiential content of visual experience: the argument from phenomenal difference, the argument from mandatory seeing, and the argument from associative agnosia. I conclude with a simple argument against the view that natural kind properties occur in the experiential content of visual experience.
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  11. Malcolm Budd (1987). Wittgenstein on Seeing Aspects. Mind 96 (January):1-17.
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  12. Stephen Andrew Butterfill (2009). Seeing Causings and Hearing Gestures. Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236):405-428.
    Can humans see causal interactions? Evidence on the visual perception of causal interactions, from Michotte to contemporary work, is best interpreted as showing that we can see some causal interactions in the same sense as that in which we can hear speech. Causal perception, like speech perception, is a form of categorical perception.
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  13. Alex Byrne (2009). Experience and Content. Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236):429-451.
    The 'content view', in slogan form, is 'Perceptual experiences have representational content'. I explain why the content view should be reformulated to remove any reference to 'experiences'. I then argue, against Bill Brewer, Charles Travis and others, that the content view is true. One corollary of the discussion is that the content of perception is relatively thin (confined, in the visual case, to roughly the output of 'mid-level' vision). Finally, I argue (briefly) that the opponents of the content view are (...)
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  14. John Campbell (2013). Susanna Siegel's the Contents of Visual Experience. Philosophical Studies 163 (3):819-826.
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  15. Peter Carruthers & Bénédicte Veillet (2011). The Case Against Cognitive Phenomenology. In Tim Bayne & Michelle Montague (eds.), Cognitive phenomenology. Oxford University Press. 35.
    The goal of this chapter is to mount a critique of the claim that cognitive content (that is, the kind of content possessed by our concepts and thoughts) makes a constitutive contribution to the phenomenal properties of our mental lives. We therefore defend the view that phenomenal consciousness is exclusively experiential (or nonconceptual) in character. The main focus of the chapter is on the alleged contribution that concepts make to the phenomenology of visual experience. For we take it that if (...)
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  16. Elijah Chudnoff (forthcoming). Moral Perception: High-Level Perception or Low-Level Intuition? In Thiemo Breyer & Christopher Gutland (eds.), Phenomenology of Thinking.
    Here are four examples of “seeing.” You see that something green is wriggling. You see that an iguana is in distress. You see that someone is wrongfully harming an iguana. You see that torturing animals is wrong. The first is an example of low-level perception. You visually represent color and motion. The second is an example of high-level perception. You visually represent kind properties and mental properties. The third is an example of moral perception. You have an impression of moral (...)
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  17. Jennifer Church (2010). Seeing Reasons. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3):638-670.
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  18. Jennifer Church (2000). 'Seeing As' and the Double Bind of Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (8-9):99-112.
    Central to aesthetic experience, but also to experience in general, is the phenomenon of ‘seeing as'. We see a painting as a landscape, we hear sequence of sounds as a melody, we see a wooden contraption as a boat, and we hear a comment as an insult. There are interesting and important differences between these cases of ‘seeing as': the painting cannot literally be a landscape while the wooden contraption can literally be a boat; a failure to hear sounds as (...)
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  19. Austen Clark (2000). A Theory of Sentience. New York: Oxford University Press.
  20. Rebecca Copenhaver (forthcoming). Thomas Reid on Aesthetic Perception. In Todd Buras & Rebecca Copenhaver (eds.), Mind, Knowledge and Action: Essays in Honor of Reid’s Tercentenary.
  21. Rebecca Copenhaver (2013). Perception and the Language of Nature. In James A. Harris (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press. 107.
  22. Rebecca Copenhaver (2010). Thomas Reid on Acquired Perception. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (3):285-312.
    Thomas Reid's distinction between original and acquired perception is not merely metaphysical; it has psychological and phenomenological stories to tell. Psychologically, acquired perception provides increased sensitivity to features in the environment. Phenomenologically, Reid's theory resists the notion that original perception is exhaustive of perceptual experience. James Van Cleve has argued that most cases of acquired perception do not count as perception and so do not pose a threat to Reid's direct realism. I argue that acquired perception is genuine perception and (...)
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  23. Parker Crutchfield (2011). Representing High-Level Properties in Perceptual Experience. Philosophical Psychology 25 (2):279 - 294.
    High-level theory is the view that high-level properties?the property of being a dog, being a tiger, being an apple, being a pair of lips, etc.?can be represented in perceptual experience. Low-level theory denies this and claims that high-level properties are only represented at the level of perceptual judgment and are products of cognitive interpretation of low-level sensory information (color, shape, illumination). This paper discusses previous attempts to establish high-level theory, their weaknesses, and an argument for high-level theory that does not (...)
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  24. Andrew Cullison (2010). Moral Perception. European Journal of Philosophy 18 (2):159-175.
    Abstract: In this paper, I defend the view that we can have perceptual moral knowledge. First, I motivate the moral perception view by drawing on some examples involving perceptual knowledge of complex non-moral properties. I argue that we have little reason to think that perception of moral properties couldn't operate in much the same way that our perception of these complex non-moral properties operates. I then defend the moral perception view from two challenging objections that have yet to be adequately (...)
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  25. Sabine A. Döring (2007). Seeing What to Do: Affective Perception and Rational Motivation. Dialectica 61 (3):363-394.
    Theories of practical reason must meet a psychological requirement: they must explain how normative practical reasons can be motivationally efficacious. It would be pointless to claim that we are subject to normative demands of reason, if we were in fact unable to meet those demands. Concerning this requirement to account for the possibility of rational motivation, internalist approaches are distinguished from externalist ones. I defend internalism, whilst rejecting both ways in which the belief‐desire model can be instantiated. Both the Humean (...)
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  26. Curt J. Ducasse (1967). How Literally Causation is Perceivable. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 28 (December):271-273.
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  27. Curt J. Ducasse (1965). Causation: Perceivable? Or Only Inferred? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 26 (December):173-179.
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  28. Curt J. Ducasse (1926). On the Nature and the Observability of the Causal Relation. Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):57-68.
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  29. Noel Fleming (1957). Recognizing and Seeing As. Philosophical Review 66 (2):161-179.
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  30. Franz From (1971). Perception of Other People. New York,Columbia University Press.
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  31. Peter Goldie (2007). Seeing What is the Kind Thing to Do: Perception and Emotion in Morality. Dialectica 61 (3):347-361.
    I argue that it is possible, in the right circumstances, to see what the kind thing is to do: in the right circumstances, we can, literally, see deontic facts, as well as facts about others’ emotional states, and evaluative facts. In arguing for this, I will deploy a notion of non‐inferential perceptual belief or judgement according to which the belief or judgement is arrived at non‐inferentially in the phenomenological sense and yet is inferential in the epistemic sense . The ability (...)
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  32. Richard Gregory (1970). The Intelligent Eye. Mcgraw-Hill.
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  33. Mitchell Herschbach (forthcoming). Direct Social Perception and Dual Process Theories of Mindreading. Consciousness and Cognition.
    The direct social perception (DSP) thesis claims that we can directly perceive some mental states of other people. The direct perception of mental states has been formulated phenomenologically and psychologically, and typically restricted to the mental state types of intentions and emotions. I will compare DSP to another account of mindreading: dual process accounts that posit a fast, automatic “Type 1” form of mindreading and a slow, effortful “Type 2” form. I will here analyze whether dual process accounts’ Type 1 (...)
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  34. Frank Hofmann, Perception: Perspectival Content and Perceptual Achievement.
    According to a classical causal account of perception, to perceive that object x is F is to fulfill the following conditions: (i) one has an experience as of x's being F, (ii) x is F, and (iii) one's experience of x's being F depends causally on x's being F. This is the core of Grice's causal theory of perception, and it is initially quite plausible (Grice 1961).
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  35. Cliff A. Hooker (1973). Empiricism, Perception and Conceptual Change. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (September):59-74.
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  36. J. F. M. Hunter (1981). Wittgenstein on Seeing and Seeing As. Philosophical Investigations 4 (2):33-49.
    The article is an interpretation of about the first half of chapter xi of part ii of "philosophical investigations". Wittgenstein is treated as having the single aim of arguing down the massive temptation to suppose that the expression 'to see...As...', And such similar expressions as 'to recognize', Record the occurrence of an experience distinct from the experience of simply seeing the object seen as or recognized. Ways are suggested of making a kind of sense of most of the very perplexing (...)
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  37. Alec Hyslop (1983). On 'Seeing-As'. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 43 (June):533-540.
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  38. Hans Jonas (1950). Causality and Perception. Journal of Philosophy 47 (May):319-323.
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  39. Kristjan Laasik (2015). Visual Contents: Beyond Reach? Philosophical Forum 46 (2):193-204.
    Susanna Siegel argues that visual contents are rich: visual experiences represent a variety of properties, over and above mere colors and shapes, including, notably, kind properties, e.g., the property of being a pine tree. To argue her case, she makes use of the method of phenomenal contrasts, which involves choosing among different explanatory hypotheses to account for phenomenal contrasts between relevant experiences. I will argue that there is reason to question whether the method of phenomenal contrasts is suitable for establishing (...)
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  40. Jason Leddington (2012). Look-Blindness. Analysis 72 (2):244-251.
    In Consciousness Revisited: Materialism without Phenomenal Concepts 2009, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Michael Tye claims that seeing can occur independently of seeing-that. Call this The Independence Claim (TIC). Tye supports this ‘general point’ by appeal to cases of ‘ubiquitous error’ (2009: 95). In this article, I show that this strategy fails: it is guilty of a certain blindness to how things look.
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  41. G. Light & D. Braff (2000). Do Self-Reports of Perceptual Anomalies Reflect Gating Deficits in Schizophrenia Patients? Biological Psychiatry 47:463-467.
  42. Don Locke (1967). Perception And Our Knowledge Of The External World. Ny: Humanities Press.
    Reissue from the classic Muirhead Library of Philosophy series (originally published between 1890s - 1970s).
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  43. Heather Logue (2013). Visual Experience of Natural Kind Properties: Is There Any Fact of the Matter? Philosophical Studies 162 (1):1-12.
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  44. Riccardo Luccio & Donata Milloni (2004). Perception of Causality: A Dynamical Analysis. In Alberto Peruzzi (ed.), Mind and Causality. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 55--19.
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  45. Jack C. Lyons (2005). Clades, Capgras, and Perceptual Kinds. Philosophical Topics 33 (1):185-206.
    Perceptual states represent the world as being certain ways, as having certain properties. Which ways and properties are these? When I hold out my hand and look at it, it seems that I have a visual experience of a hand. One traditional view has held that my perceptual state is not of a hand but merely of an array of color patches, or the like, which disposes me to believe that there’s a hand without itself actually representing anything as being (...)
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  46. Jack C. Lyons (2005). Clades, Capgras, and Perceptual Kinds. Philosophical Topics 33 (1):185-206.
    I defend a moderate (neither extremely conservative nor extremely liberal) view about the contents of perception. I develop an account of perceptual kinds as perceptual similarity classes, which are convex regions in similarity space. Different perceivers will enjoy different perceptual kinds. I argue that for any property P, a perceptual state of O can represent something as P only if P is coextensive with some perceptual kind for O. 'Dog' and 'chair' will be perceptual kinds for most normal people, 'blackpool (...)
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  47. Fiona Macpherson (2006). Ambiguous Figures and the Content of Experience. Noûs 40 (1):82-117.
    Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counter-example to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judge- ments to account for Gestalt (...)
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  48. Michael E. Malone (1978). Is Scientific Observation Seeing As? Philosophical Investigations 1 (4):23-38.
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  49. Maurice Mandelbaum (1969). The Phenomenology of Moral Experience. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press.
  50. Olivier Massin (2011). Résistance Et Existence [Resistence and Existence]. Etudes de Philosophie 9:275- 310.
    I defend the view that the experience of resistance gives us a direct phenomenal access to the mind-independence of perceptual objects. In the first part, I address a humean objection against the very possibility of experiencing existential mind-independence. The possibility of an experience of mind-independence being secured, I argue in the second part that the experience of resistance is the only kind of experience by which we directly access existential mind-independence.
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