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Profile: Bence Nanay (University of Antwerp, Cambridge University)
  1.  16
    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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  2. Carolyn Dicey Jennings & Bence Nanay (2016). Action Without Attention. Analysis 76 (1):29-36.
    Wayne Wu argues that attention is necessary for action: since action requires a solution to the ‘Many–Many Problem’, and since only attention can solve the Many–Many Problem, attention is necessary for action. We question the first of these two steps and argue that it is based on an oversimplified distinction between actions and reflexes. We argue for a more complex typology of behaviours where one important category is action that does not require a solution to the Many–Many Problem, and so (...)
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  3.  21
    Jacob Berger & Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Relationalism and Unconscious Perception. Analysis:anw060.
    Relationalism holds that perceptual experiences are relations between subjects and perceived objects. But much evidence suggests that perceptual states can be unconscious. We argue here that unconscious perception raises difficulties for relationalism. Relationalists would seem to have three options. First, they may deny that there is unconscious perception or question whether we have sufficient evidence to posit it. Second, they may allow for unconscious perception but deny that the relationalist analysis applies to it. Third, they may offer a relationalist explanation (...)
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  4. 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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  5. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Hallucination as Mental Imagery. Journal of Consciousness Studies.
    Hallucination is a big deal in contemporary philosophy of perception. The main reason for this is that the way hallucination is treated marks an important stance in one of the most vicious debates in this subdiscipline: the debate between ‘relationalists’ and ‘representationalists’. I argue that if we take hallucinations to be a form of mental imagery (as the literature in neuroscience and psychiatry routinely does), then we have a very straightforward way of arguing against disjunctivism: if hallucination is a form (...)
     
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  6. 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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  7. Christoph Teufel & Bence Nanay (forthcoming). How to (and How Not to) Think About Top-Down Influences on Visual Perception. Consciousness and Cognition.
    The question of whether cognition can influence perception has a long history in neuroscience and philosophy. Here, we outline a novel approach to this issue, arguing that it should be viewed within the framework of top-down information-processing. This approach leads to a reversal of the standard explanatory order of the cognitive penetration debate: we suggest studying top-down processing at various levels without preconceptions of perception or cognition. Once a clear picture has emerged about which processes have influences on those at (...)
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  8. 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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  9. Bence Nanay (2010). Perception and Imagination: Amodal Perception as Mental Imagery. Philosophical Studies 150 (2):239 - 254.
    When we see an object, we also represent those parts of it that are not visible. The question is how we represent them: this is the problem of amodal perception. I will consider three possible accounts: (a) we see them, (b) we have non-perceptual beliefs about them and (c) we have immediate perceptual access to them, and point out that all of these views face both empirical and conceptual objections. I suggest and defend a fourth account, according to which we (...)
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  10. Bence Nanay (2015). Perceptual Content and the Content of Mental Imagery. Philosophical Studies 172 (7):1723-1736.
    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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  11. Bence Nanay (2005). Foundationalism Strikes Back? In Search of Epistemically Basic Mental States. In Rene van Woudenberg, Sabine Roeser & Ron Rood (eds.), Basic Belief and Basic Knowledge. Ontos-Verlag 4--41.
     
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  12. Christoph Teufel & Bence Nanay (forthcoming). How to (and How Not to) Think About Top-Down Influences on Visual Perception. Consciousness and Cognition.
    The question of whether cognition can influence perception has a long history in neuroscience and philosophy. Here, we outline a novel approach to this issue, arguing that it should be viewed within the framework of top-down information-processing. This approach leads to a reversal of the standard explanatory order of the cognitive penetration debate: we suggest studying top-down processing at various levels without preconceptions of perception or cognition. Once a clear picture has emerged about which processes have influences on those at (...)
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  13. Bence Nanay (2015). Aesthetic Attention. Journal of Consciousness Studies 22:960118.
    The aim of this paper is to give a new account of the way we exercise our attention in some paradigmatic cases of aesthetic experience. I treat aesthetic experience as a specific kind of experience and like in the case of other kinds of experiences, attention plays an important role in determining its phenomenal character. I argue that an important feature of at least some of our aesthetic experiences is that we exercise our attention in a specific, distributed, manner: our (...)
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  14. Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Philosophy of Perception: A Road-Map with Many Bypass Roads. In Current Controversies in Philosophy of Perception. Routlegde
    An introduction to contemporary debates in philosophy of perception.
     
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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. Bence Nanay (2016). Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press Uk.
    Bency Nanay brings the discussion of aesthetics and perception together, to explore how many influential debates in aesthetics look very different, and may be easier to tackle, if we clarify the assumptions they make about perception and about experiences in general. He focuses on the concept of attention and the ways in which the distinction between distributed and focused attention can help us re-evaluate various key concepts and debates in aesthetics. Sometimes our attention is distributed in an unusual way: we (...)
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  18.  18
    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.
    In this paper, I am clarifying and defending my argument in favor of the claim that cumulative selection can explain adaptation provided that the environmental resources are limited. Further, elaborate on what this limitation of environmental resources means and why it is relevant for the explanatory power of natural selection.
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  19.  45
    Bence Nanay (2005). Can Cumulative Selection Explain Adaptation? Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1099-1112.
    Two strong arguments have been given in favor of the claim that no selection process can play a role in explaining adaptations. According to the first argument, selection is a negative force; it may explain why the eliminated individuals are eliminated, but it does not explain why the ones that survived (or their offspring) have the traits they have. The second argument points out that the explanandum and the explanans are phenomena at different levels: selection is a population-level phenomenon, whereas (...)
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  20. Bence Nanay (2014). The Representationalism Versus Relationalism Debate: Explanatory Contextualism About Perception. European Journal of Philosophy 23 (1):321-336.
    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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  21.  83
    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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  22. 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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  23.  94
    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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  24. Bence Nanay (2011). Function, Modality, Mental Content. Journal of Mind and Behavior 32 (2):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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  25.  96
    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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  26. Bence Nanay (2016). Imagination and Perception. In Amy Kind (ed.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Imagination. Routledge
    Look at a red apple. Now close your eyes and visualize this apple. Your perceptual state and your imagery of the apple are very similar in some respects. They are also different in some respects. The aim of this paper is to address three questions about the relation between perception and imagination: -/- (a) How similar are perception and imagination and what explains this similarity? (b) How different are perception and imagination and what explains this difference? (c) How do perception (...)
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  27.  59
    Bence Nanay (2014). Teleosemantics Without Etiology. Philosophy of Science 81 (5):798-810.
    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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  28.  97
    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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  29.  64
    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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  30. 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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  31. Bence Nanay (2014). 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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  32.  88
    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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  33. 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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  34.  69
    Bence Nanay (2016). The Role of Imagination in Decision-Making. Mind and Language 31 (1):126-142.
    The psychological mechanism of decision-making has traditionally been modeled with the help of belief-desire psychology: the agent has some desires (or other pro-attitudes) and some background beliefs and deciding between two possible actions is a matter of comparing the probability of the satisfaction of these desires given the background beliefs in the case of the performance of each action. There is a wealth of recent empirical findings about how we actually make decisions that seems to be in conflict with this (...)
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  35.  4
    Bence Nanay (forthcoming). Entity Realism and Singularist Semirealism. Synthese:1-19.
    Entity realism is the view that ‘a good many theoretical entities do really exist’. The main novelty of entity realism was that it provided an account of scientific realism that did not have to endorse realism about theories—the general proposal was that entity realism is noncommittal about whether we should be realist about scientific theories. I argue that the only way entity realists can resist the pull of straight scientific realism about theories is by endorsing a recent new player in (...)
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  36. 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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  37. Bence Nanay (2012). The Multimodal Experience of Art. British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (4):353-363.
  38. 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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  39. 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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  40.  32
    Bence Nanay (2009). The Properties of Singular Causation. The Monist 92 (1):112-132.
    Theories of singular causation have a genuine problem with properties. In virtue of what property do events (or facts) cause other events? One possible answer to this question, Davidson’s, is that causal relations hold between particulars and properties play no role in the way a particular causes another. According to another, recently fashionable answer, in contrast, events cause other events in virtue of having a trope (as opposed to a property-type). Both views face serious objections. My aim in this paper (...)
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  41. Bence Nanay (2015). Experimental Philosophy and Naturalism. In E. Fischer & J. Collins (eds.), Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism and Naturalism. Rethinking Philosophical Method. Routledge 222-239.
    The aim of this paper is to argue that there has been some mismatch between the naturalist rhetoric of experimental philosophy and its actual practice: experimental philosophy is not necessarily, and not even paradigmatically, a naturalistic enterprise. To substantiate this claim, a case study is given for what genuinely naturalist experimental philosophy would look like.
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  42.  25
    Bence Nanay (2009). Imagining, Recognizing and Discriminating. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):699-717.
    According to the Ability Hypothesis, knowing what it is like to have experience E is just having the ability to imagine or recognize or remember having experience E. I examine various versions of the Ability Hypothesis and point out that they all face serious objections. Then I propose a new version that is not vulnerable to these objections: knowing what it is like to experience E is having the ability todiscriminate imagining or having experience E from imagining or having any (...)
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  43.  54
    Bence Nanay (2010). Population Thinking as Trope Nominalism. Synthese 177 (1):91 - 109.
    The concept of population thinking was introduced by Ernst Mayr as the right way of thinking about the biological domain, but it is difficult to find an interpretation of this notion that is both unproblematic and does the theoretical work it was intended to do. I argue that, properly conceived, Mayr’s population thinking is a version of trope nominalism: the view that biological property-types do not exist or at least they play no explanatory role. Further, although population thinking has been (...)
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  44.  64
    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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  45.  28
    Bence Nanay (2002). The Return of the Replicator: What is Philosophically Significant in a General Account of Replication and Selection? [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):109-121.
    The aim of this paper is to outline a typologyof selection processes, and show that differentsub-categories have different explanatorypower. The basis of this typology of selectionprocesses is argued to be the difference ofreplication processes involved in them. Inorder to show this, I argue that: 1.Replication is necessary for selection and 2.Different types of replication lead todifferent types of selection. Finally, it isargued that this typology is philosophicallysignificant, since it contrasts cases ofselection (on the basis of the replicationprocesses involved in them) (...)
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  46. Bence Nanay (2015). Perceptual Representation / Perceptual Content. In Mohan Matthen (ed.), Oxford Handbook for the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press 153-167.
    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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  47.  90
    Bence Nanay (2009). The Properties of Singular Causation. The Monist 92 (1):112-132.
    Theories of singular causation have a genuine problem with properties. In virtue of what property do events (or facts) cause other events? One possible answer to this question, Davidson’s, is that causal relations hold between particulars and properties play no role in the way a particular causes another. According to another, recently fashionable answer, in contrast, events cause other events in virtue of having a trope (as opposed to a property-type). Both views face serious objections. My aim in this paper (...)
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  48.  89
    Bence Nanay (2006). Symmetry Between the Intentionality of Minds and Machines? The Biological Plausibility of Dennett's Position. Minds and Machines 16 (1):57-71.
    One of the most influential arguments against the claim that computers can think is that while our intentionality is intrinsic, that of computers is derived: it is parasitic on the intentionality of the programmer who designed the computer-program. Daniel Dennett chose a surprising strategy for arguing against this asymmetry: instead of denying that the intentionality of computers is derived, he endeavours to argue that human intentionality is derived too. I intend to examine that biological plausibility of Dennett’s suggestion and show (...)
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  49.  53
    Bence Nanay (2010). Transparency and Sensorimotor Contingencies: Do We See Through Photographs? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (4):463-480.
    It has been claimed that photographs are transparent: we see through them; we literally see the photographed object through the photograph. Whether this claim is true depends on the way we conceive of seeing. There has been a controversy about whether localizing the perceived object in one's egocentric space is a necessary feature of seeing, as if it is, then photographs are unlikely to be transparent. I would like to propose and defend another, much weaker, necessary condition for seeing: I (...)
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  50.  29
    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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