Perception and computation

Philosophical Issues 20 (1):96-124 (2010)
Abstract
Students of perception have long puzzled over a range of cases in which perception seems to tell us distinct, and in some sense conflicting, things about the world. In the cases at issue, the perceptual system is capable of responding to a single stimulus — say, as manifested in the ways in which subjects sort that stimulus — in different ways. This paper is about these puzzling cases, and about how they should be characterized and accounted for within a general theory of perception. After rehearsing the sort of case at issue (§1), I’ll examine critically some of the strategies by which philosophers and perceptual psychologists have attempted to account for them (§2). Finally, I’ll present an alternative computational account of the puzzle cases, argue that this view is superior to its competitors, and examine some of its implications (§3)
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