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Profile: Bence Nanay (University of Antwerp, Cambridge University)
  1. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Empirical Problems with Anti-Representationalism. In B. Brogaard (ed.), Does Perception have Content? Oxford University Press.
    The aim of this paper is to raise some serious worries about anti-representationalism: the recently popular view according to which there are no perceptual representations. Although anti-representationalism is more and more popular, I will argue that we have strong empirical reasons for mistrusting it. More specifically, I will argue that it is inconsistent with some important empirical findings about dorsal perception and about the multimodality of perception.
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  2. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Natural Properties and Bottomless Determination. Americal Philosophical Quarterly.
    It is widely held that some properties are more natural than others and that, as David Lewis put it, “an adequate theory of properties is one that recognises an objective difference between natural and unnatural properties” (Lewis 1983, p. 347). The general line of thought is that such ‘elitism’ about properties is justified as it can give simple and elegant solutions to a number of old metaphysical and philosophical problems. My aim is to analyze what these natural properties are: super-determinates (...)
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  3. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Perceptual Content and the Content of Mental Imagery. Philosophical Studies.
    The aim of this paper is to argue that the phenomenal similarity between perceiving and visualizing can be explained by the similarity between the structure of the content of these two different mental states. And this puts important constraints on how we should think about perceptual content and the content of mental imagery.
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  4. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Philosophy of Perception as a Guide to Aesthetics. In Greg Currie, Aaron Meskin, Matthew Kieran & Jon Robson (eds.), Aesthetics and the Sciences of the Mind.
    The aim of this paper is to argue that it is a promising avenue of research to consider philosophy of perception to be a guide to aesthetics. More precisely, my claim is that many, maybe even most, traditional problems in aesthetics are in fact about philosophy of perception that can, as a result, be fruitfully addressed with the help of the conceptual apparatus of philosophy of perception. This claim may sound provocative, but after qualifying what I mean by aesthetics (to (...)
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  5. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Perceptual Representation / Perceptual Content. In Mohan Matthen (ed.), Oxford Handbook for the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press.
    A straightforward way of thinking about perception is in terms of perceptual representation. Perception is the construction of perceptual representations that represent the world correctly or incorrectly. This way of thinking about perception has been questioned recently by those who deny that there are perceptual representations. This article examines some reasons for and against the concept of perceptual representation and explores some potential ways of resolving this debate. Then it analyzes what perceptual representations may be: if they attribute properties to (...)
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  6. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). There is No Such Thing as Patriotic Art: Clive Bell on Art and War. Ethics.
     
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  7. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Teleosemantics Without Etiology. Philosophy of Science.
    The aim of teleosemantics is to give a scientifically respectable, or ‘naturalistic’ theory of mental content. In the debates surrounding the scope and merits of teleosemantics a lot has been said about the concept of indication (or carrying information). The aim of this paper is to focus on the other key concept of teleosemantics: biological function. It has been universally accepted in the teleosemantics literature that the account of biological function one should use to flesh out teleosemantics is that of (...)
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  8. Bence Nanay (2014). An Experiential Account of Creativity. In Elliot Paul & Scott Barry Kaufman (eds.), The Philosophy of Creativity. Oxford University Press.
    The aim of the paper is to argue that the difference between creative and non-creative mental processes is not a functional/computational, but an experiential one. In other words, what is distinctive about creative mental processes is not the functional/computational mechanism that leads to the emergence of a creative idea, be it the recombination of old ideas or the transformation of one’s conceptual space, but the way in which this mental process is experienced. The explanatory power of the functional/computational theories and (...)
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  9. Bence Nanay (2014). Naturalizing Action Theory. In Mark Sprevak & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Mind. Palgrave.
    The aim of this paper is to give a new argument for naturalized action theory. The sketch of the argument is the following: the immediate mental antecedents of actions, that is, the mental states that makes actions actions, are not normally accessible to introspection. But then we have no other option but to turn to the empirical sciences if we want to characterize and analyze them.
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  10. Bence Nanay (2014). The Dethroning of Ideocracy. The Monist 97 (1):3-11.
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  11. Bence Nanay (2014). The Representationalism Versus Relationalism Debate: Explanatory Contextualism About Perception. European Journal of Philosophy 22 (2).
    There are two very different ways of thinking about perception. According to representationalism, perceptual states are representations: they represent the world as being a certain way. They have content, which may or may not be different from the content of beliefs. They represent objects as having properties, sometimes veridically, sometimes not. According to relationalism, perception is a relation between the agent and the perceived object. Perceived objects are literally constituents of our perceptual states and not of the contents thereof. Perceptual (...)
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  12. Bence Nanay (2013). Artifact Categorization and the Modal Theory of Artifact Function. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):515-526.
    Philosophers and psychologists widely hold that artifact categories – just like biological categories – are individuated by their function. But recent empirical findings in psychology question this assumption. My proposal is to suggest a way of squaring these findings with the central role function should play in individuating artifact categories. But in order to do so, we need to give up on the standard account of artifact function, according to which function is fixed by design, and replace it with a (...)
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  13. Bence Nanay (2013). Between Perception and Action. Oup Oxford.
    What mediates between sensory input and motor output? What makes it possible to act on what you perceive? Bence Nanay argues that pragmatic representations provide the perceptual guidance for performing actions. They play a key role in our mental lives, and help explain why the majority of our mental processes are very similar to those of animals.
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  14. Bence Nanay (2013). Function Attributions Depend on the Explanatory Context. Journal of Philosophy 109 (10):623-627.
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  15. Bence Nanay (2013). From Philosophy of Science to Philosophy of Literature (and Back) Via Philosophy of Mind. Philip Kitcher’s Philosophical Pendulum. Theoria (77):257-264.
    A recent focus of Philip Kitcher’s research has been, somewhat surprisingly in the light of his earlier work, the philosophical analyses of literary works and operas. Some may see a discontinuity in Kitcher’s oeuvre in this respect – it may be difficult to see how his earlier contributions to philosophy of science relate to this much less mainstream approach to philosophy. The aim of this paper is to show that there is no such discontinuity: Kitcher’s contributions to the philosophy of (...)
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  16. Bence Nanay (2013). Philosophy Verus Literature? Against the Discontinuity Thesis. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71 (4):349-360.
    According to what I call the ‘Discontinuity Thesis’, literature can never count as genuine philosophizing: there is an impermeable barrier separating it from philosophy. While philosophy presents logically valid arguments in favor of or against precisely formulated statements, literature gives neither precisely formulated theses nor arguments in favor of or against them. Hence, philosophers don’t lose out on anything if they don’t read literature. There are two obvious ways of questioning the Discontinuity Thesis. First, arguing that literature can indeed do (...)
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  17. Bence Nanay (2013). Singularist Semirealism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (2):371-394.
    This paper proposes to carve out a new position in the scientific realism/antirealism debate and argue that it captures some of the most important realist and some of the most important antirealist considerations. The view, briefly stated, is that there is always a fact of the matter about whether the singular statements science gives us are literally true, but there is no fact of the matter about whether the non-singular statements science gives us are literally true. I call this view (...)
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  18. Bence Nanay (2013). Success Semantics: The Sequel. Philosophical Studies 165 (1):151-165.
    The aim of this paper is to reinterpret success semantics, a theory of mental content, according to which the content of a belief is fixed by the success conditions of some actions based on this belief. After arguing that in its present form, success semantics is vulnerable to decisive objections, I examine the possibilities of salvaging the core of this proposal. More specifically, I propose that the content of some very simple, but very important, mental states, the immediate mental antecedents (...)
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  19. Bence Nanay (2012). Anti-Pornography. In Hans Maes & Jerrold Levinson (eds.), Art and Pornography. Oxford University Press.
    One striking feature of pornographic images is that they emphasize what is depicted and underplay the way it is depicted: the experience of pornography rarely involves awareness of the picture’s composition or of visual rhyme. There are various ways of making this distinction between what is depicted in a picture and the way the depicted object is depicted in it. Following Richard Wollheim, I call these two aspects, the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of pictorial representation ‘recognitional’ and ‘configurational’, respectively. Some pictures (...)
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  20. Bence Nanay (2012). Action-Oriented Perception. European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):430-446.
    Abstract: When I throw a ball at you, do you see it as catch-able? Do we perceive objects as edible, climbable or Q-able in general? One could argue that it is just a manner of speaking to say so: we do not really see an object as edible, we only infer on the basis of its other properties that it is. I argue that whether or not an object is edible or climbable is indeed represented perceptually: we see objects as (...)
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  21. Bence Nanay (2012). Bayes or Determinables? What Does the Bidirectional Hierarchical Model of Brain Functions Tell Us About the Nature of Perceptual Representation? Frontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 3.
    The focus of this commentary is what Andy Clark takes to be the most groundbreaking of the philosophical import of the ‘bidirectional hierarchical model of brain functions’, namely, the claim that perceptual representations represent probabilities. This is what makes his account Bayesian and this is a philosophical or theoretical conclusion that neuroscientists and psychologists are also quick and happy to draw. My claim is that nothing in the ‘bidirectional hierarchical models of brain functions’ implies that perceptual representations are probabilistic, or (...)
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  22. Bence Nanay (2012). Function Attribution Depends on the Explanatory Context: A Reply to Neander and Rosenberg's Reply to Nanay. Journal of Philosophy 109 (10):623-627.
    In ‘A modal theory of function’, I gave an argument against all existing theories of function and outlined a new theory. Karen Neander and Alex Rosenberg argue against both my negative and my positive claim. My aim here is not merely to defend my account from their objections, but to (a) very briefly point out that the new account of etiological function they propose in response to my criticism cannot avoid the circularity worry either and, more importantly, to (b) highlight, (...)
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  23. Bence Nanay (2012). Musical Twofoldness. The Monist 95 (4):607-624.
    The concept of twofoldness plays an important role in understanding the aesthetic appreciation of pictures. My claim is that it also plays an important role in understanding the aesthetic appreciation of musical performances. I argue that when we are aesthetically appreciating the performance of a musical work, we are simultaneously attending to both the features of the performed musical work and the features of the token performance we are listening to. This twofold experience explains a number of salient aspects of (...)
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  24. Bence Nanay (2012). Perceptual Phenomenology. Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):235-246.
    I am looking at an apple. The apple has a lot of properties and some, but not all, of these are part of my phenomenology at this moment: I am aware of these properties. And some, but not all, of these properties that I am aware of are part of my perceptual (or sensory) phenomenology. If I am attending to the apple’s color, this property will be part of my perceptual phenomenology. The property of being a granny smith apple from (...)
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  25. Bence Nanay (2012). Perceiving Tropes. Erkenntnis 77 (1):1-14.
    There are two very different ways of thinking about perception. According to the first one, perception is representational: it represents the world as being a certain way. According to the second, perception is a genuine relation between the perceiver and a token object. These two views are thought to be incompatible. My aim is to work out the least problematic version of the representational view of perception that preserves the most important considerations in favor of the relational view. According to (...)
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  26. Bence Nanay (2012). The Macro and the Micro. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (1):91-100.
    Andreas Gursky is the darling of philosophers and art theorists of all kinds of traditions and denominations. He has been used as a prime example of the return of the sublime in contemporary art, as a trailblazer in the use of the digital manipulation of images in order to represent something abstract and even as a philosopher of perception who makes some subtle point about the nature of visual experience. All of these arguments are based on some or another technological (...)
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  27. Bence Nanay (2012). The Multimodal Experience of Art. British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (4):353-363.
  28. Bence Nanay (2011). Ambiguous Figures, Attention, and Perceptual Content: Reply to Jagnow. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (4):557-561.
    I argued in Nanay 2010 that we cannot characterize perceptual content without reference to attention. Here, I defend this account from three objections raised by Jagnow 2011. This mainly takes the form of clarifying some details not sufficiently elaborated in the original article and dispelling some potential misunderstandings.
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  29. Bence Nanay (2011). Do We See Apples as Edible? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (3):305-322.
    Do we (sometimes) perceive apples as edible? One could argue that it is just a manner of speaking to say so: we do not really see an object as edible, we see it as having certain shape, size and color and we only infer on the basis of these properties that it is. I argue that we do indeed see objects as edible, and do not just believe that they are. My argument proceeds in two steps. First, I point out (...)
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  30. Bence Nanay (2011). Do We Sense Modalities with Our Sense Modalities? Ratio 24 (3):299-310.
    It has been widely assumed that we do not perceive dispositional properties. I argue that there are two ways of interpreting this assumption. On the first, extensional, interpretation whether we perceive dispositions depends on a complex set of metaphysical commitments. But if we interpret the claim in the second, intensional, way, then we have no reason to suppose that we do not perceive dispositional properties. The two most important and influential arguments to the contrary fail.
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  31. Bence Nanay (2011). Function, Modality, Mental Content. Journal of Mind and Behavior 32:84-87.
    I clarify some of the details of the modal theory of function I outlined in Nanay (2010): (a) I explicate what it means that the function of a token biological trait is fixed by modal facts; (b) I address an objection to my trait type individuation argument against etiological function and (c) I examine the consequences of replacing the etiological theory of function with a modal theory for the prospects of using the concept of biological function to explain mental content.
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  32. Bence Nanay (2011). Popper's Darwinian Analogy. Perspectives on Science 19 (3):337-354.
    One of the most deeply entrenched ideas in Popper's philosophy is the analogy between the growth of scientific knowledge and the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection. Popper gave his first exposition of these ideas very early on. In a letter to Donald Campbell, 1 Popper says that the idea goes back at least to the early thirties. 2 And he had a fairly detailed account of it in his "What is dialectic?", a talk given in 1937 and published in 1940: (...)
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  33. Bence Nanay (2011). Perceiving Pictures. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (4):461-480.
    I aim to give a new account of picture perception: of the way our visual system functions when we see something in a picture. My argument relies on the functional distinction between the ventral and dorsal visual subsystems. I propose that it is constitutive of picture perception that our ventral subsystem attributes properties to the depicted scene, whereas our dorsal subsystem attributes properties to the picture surface. This duality elucidates Richard Wollheim’s concept of the “twofoldness” of our experience of pictures: (...)
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  34. Bence Nanay (2011). Replication Without Replicators. Synthese 179 (455):477.
    According to a once influential view of selection, it consists of repeated cycles of replication and interaction. It has been argued that this view is wrong: replication is not necessary for evolution by natural selection. I analyze the nine most influential arguments for this claim and defend the replication–interaction conception of selection against these objections. In order to do so, however, the replication–interaction conception of selection needs to be modified significantly. My proposal is that replication is not the copying of (...)
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  35. Bence Nanay (2011). Three Ways of Resisting Essentialism About Natural Kinds. In J. K. Campbell & M. H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. Topics in Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. 8. MIT Press. 175--97.
    Essentialism about natural kinds has three tenets. The first tenet is that all and only members of a natural kind has some essential properties. The second tenet is that these essential properties play a causal role. The third tenet is that they are explanatorily relevant. I examine the prospects of questioning these tenets and point out that arguing against the first and the second tenets of kind-essentialism would involve taking parts in some of the grand debates of philosophy. But, at (...)
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  36. Bence Nanay (2011). What If Reality has No Architecture? The Monist 94 (181):197.
    The aim of this paper is to show that we can deny that reality is neatly segmented into natural kinds and still give a plausible view about what science is supposed to do – and the way science in fact works does not rely on the dubious metaphysical assumption that reality is segmented into natural kinds. The score is simple: either there are natural kinds or there aren’t. The former view has been the default position in mainstream analytic metaphysics and (...)
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  37. Bence Nanay (2010). Attention and Perceptual Content. Analysis 70 (2):263-270.
    I argue that perceptual content is always affected by the allocation of one’s attention. Perception attributes determinable and determinate properties to the perceived scene. Attention makes (or tries to make) our perceptual attribution of properties more determinate. Hence, a change in our attention changes the determinacy of the properties attributed to the perceived scene.
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  38. Bence Nanay (2010). A Modal Theory of Function. Journal of Philosophy 107 (8):412-431.
    The function of a trait token is usually defined in terms of some properties of other (past, present, future) tokens of the same trait type. I argue that this strategy is problematic, as trait types are (at least partly) individuated by their functional properties, which would lead to circularity. In order to avoid this problem, I suggest a way to define the function of a trait token in terms of the properties of the very same trait token. To able to (...)
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  39. Bence Nanay (2010). Adam Smith’s Concept of Sympathy and its Contemporary Interpretations. Adam Smith Review.
    Adam Smith’s account of sympathy or ‘fellow feeling’ has recently become exceedingly popular. It has been used as an antecedent of the concept of simulation: understanding, or attributing mental states to, other people by means of simulating them. It has also been singled out as the first correct account of empathy. Finally, to make things even more complicated, some of Smith’s examples for sympathy or ‘fellow feeling’ have been used as the earliest expression of emotional contagion. The aim of the (...)
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  40. Bence Nanay (2010). Experience of Pictures. In Catharine Abell Katerina Bantinaki (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. 181.
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  41. Bence Nanay (2010). Group Selection and Our Obsession with the Grand Questions of Life. The Monist.
    The aim of this paper is to make an unlikely connection between the old question about the meaning of life and some important concepts in philosophy of biology. More precisely, I argue that while biology is unlikely to help us to figure out the meaning of life, the fact that this question has been considered to be such a crucial one could be explained with the help of some consideration of our evolutionary past. I argue that if there is evidence (...)
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  42. Bence Nanay (2010). Group Selection and Our Obsession with the Meaning of Life. The Monist 93 (1):76-95.
    The aim of this paper is to make an unlikely connection between the old question about the meaning of life and some important concepts in philosophy of biology. More precisely, I argue that while biology is unlikely to help us to figure out the meaning of life, the fact that this question has been considered to be such a crucial one could be explained with the help of some consideration of our evolutionary past. I argue that if there is evidence (...)
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  43. Bence Nanay (2010). Inflected and Uninflected Perception of Pictures. In C. Abell & K. Bantilaki (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press.
    It has been argued that picture perception is sometimes, but not always, ‘inflected’. Sometimes the picture’s design ‘inflects’, or is ‘recruited’ into the depicted scene. The aim of this paper is to cash out what is meant by these metaphors. Our perceptual state is different when we see an object fact to face or when we see it in a picture. But there is also a further distinction: our perceptual state is very different if we perceive objects in pictures in (...)
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  44. Bence Nanay (2010). Inflected and Uninflected Experience of Pictures. In Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oup Oxford.
     
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  45. Bence Nanay (2010). Imaginative Resistance and Conversational Implicature. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):586-600.
    We experience resistance when we are engaging with fictional works which present certain (for example, morally objectionable) claims. But in virtue of what properties do sentences trigger this ‘imaginative resistance’? I argue that while most accounts of imaginative resistance have looked for semantic properties in virtue of which sentences trigger it, this is unlikely to give us a coherent account, because imaginative resistance is a pragmatic phenomenon. It works in a way very similar to Paul Grice's widely analysed ‘conversational implicature’.
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  46. Bence Nanay (2010). Morality or Modality?: What Does the Attribution of Intentionality Depend On? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):pp. 25-39.
    It has been argued that the attribution of intentional actions is sensitive to our moral judgment. I suggest an alternative, where the attribution of intentional actions depends on modal (and not moral) considerations. We judge a foreseen side-effect of an agent’s intentionally performed action to be intentional if the following modal claim is true: if she had not ignored considerations about the foreseen side-effect, her action might have been different (other things being equal). I go through the most important examples (...)
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  47. Bence Nanay (ed.) (2010). New Essays on the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press.
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  48. Bence Nanay (2010). Neither Moralists, nor Scientists: We Are Counterfactually Reasoning Animals. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (4):347-348.
    We are neither scientists nor moralists. Our mental capacities (such as attributing intentionality) are neither akin to the scientist's exact reasoning, nor are they (Knobe's target article, sect. 2.2, last para.). They are more similar to all those simple capacities that humans and animals are equally capable of, but with enhanced sensitivity to counterfactual situations: of what could have been.
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  49. Bence Nanay (2010). Natural Selection and the Limited Nature of Environmental Resources. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (4):418-419.
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  50. Bence Nanay (2010). Neither Scientists, nor Moralists: We Are Counterfactually Reasoning Animals. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
    We are neither scientists nor moralists. Our mental capacities (like attributing intentionality) are neither akin to the scientist’s exact reasoning, nor are they “suffused through and through with moral considerations”. They are more similar to all those simple capacities that humans and animals are equally capable of, but with enhanced sensitivity to counterfactual situations: of what could have been.
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