Metaphysics, method, and the mouth: Philosophical lessons of speech perception

Philosophical Psychology 14 (3):261-291 (2001)
This paper advances a novel argument that speech perception is a complex system best understood nonindividualistically and therefore that individualism fails as a general philosophical program for understanding cognition. The argument proceeds in four steps. First, I describe a "replaceability strategy", commonly deployed by individualists, in which one imagines replacing an object with an appropriate surrogate. This strategy conveys the appearance that relata can be substituted without changing the laws that hold within the domain. Second, I advance a "counterfactual test" as an alternative to the replaceability strategy. Third, I show how the typical objects of cross-modal processes (in this case, auditory-visual speech perception), more clearly irreplaceable than the objects of the unimodal process examined by Burge [(1986) Individualism and psychology, The Philosophical Review, XCV, 3-45], supply a firm basis for a nonindividualist interpretation of such cases. Finally, I demonstrate that the routine violation of the individualist's Replaceability Condition occurs even in unimodal cases - so the violation of the replaceability constraint does not derive simply from the diversity of modal sources but rather from the causal complexity of psychological processes generally. The conclusion is that philosophical progress on this issue must await progress in psychology, or, at least, philosophical progress in accounting for psychological complexity--precisely the vicissitude predicted by a thoroughgoing naturalism
Keywords Metaphysics  Methodology  Perception  Science  Speech
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    Casey O'Callaghan (2010). Experiencing Speech. Philosophical Issues 20 (1):305-332.
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