John McDowell and Bill Brewer famously defend the view that one can only have empirical beliefs if one’s perceptualexperiences serve as reasons for such beliefs, where reasons are understood in terms of subject’s reasons. In this paper I show, first, that it is a consequence of the adoption of such a requirement for one to have empirical beliefs that children as old as 3 years of age have to considered as not having genuine empirical beliefs at all. (...) But we have strong reasons to think that 3-year-old children have empirical beliefs, or so I argue. If this is the case, McDowell and Brewer’s requirement for one to have empirical beliefs faces a strong challenge. After showing this, I propose an alternative requirement for one to have empirical beliefs, and argue that it should be favoured over McDowell and Brewer’s requirement. (shrink)
The question whether perceptualexperiences justify perceptual beliefs is ambiguous. One problem is the well familiar skeptical one. How can perceptualexperiences justify beliefs if those experiences may systematically deceive us? Our experiences might be just as they are and yet the world might be radically different. But there is also another problem about the justification of perceptual beliefs which arises independently of the above skeptical worry. This other problem has to do (...) with our understanding of the very notion of justification. It seems natural to think that justification can exist only in so far as what is justified is inferentially linked to the justifier. The question, then, is whether perceptualexperiences can serve as an inferential basis for perceptual beliefs. The content of experiences does not seem to be the same sort of content that is possessed by beliefs. So the nature of the relation between experiences and beliefs is far from obvious. In this paper I survey various attempts of justifying the view that there is an inferential relation between experiences and beliefs so that the latter can be justified by the former and I argue that none of those attempts is satisfactory. I also suggest that the problem which those attempts address may be illusory. Even though it seems true that experiences and beliefs possess different kinds of contents, there may be no logical gap between those contents that needs to be bridged by some philosophical reflection. (shrink)
I argue that any account of perceptual experience should satisfy the following two desiderata. First, it should account for the particularity of perceptual experience, that is, it should account for the mind-independent object of an experience making a difference to individuating the experience. Second, it should explain the possibility that perceptual relations to distinct environments could yield subjectively indistinguishable experiences. Relational views of perceptual experience can easily satisfy the first but not the second desideratum. Representational (...) views can easily satisfy the second but not the first desideratum. I argue that to satisfy both desiderata perceptual experience is best conceived of as fundamentally both relational and representational. I develop a view of perceptual experience that synthesizes the virtues of relationalism and representationalism, by arguing that perceptual content is constituted by potentially gappy de re modes of presentation. (shrink)
A number of emotion theorists hold that emotions are perceptions of value. In this paper I say why they are wrong. I claim that in the case of emotion there is nothing that can provide the perceptual modality that is needed if the perceptual theory is to succeed (where by ‘perceptual modality’ I mean the particular manner in which something is perceived). I argue that the five sensory modalities are not possible candidates for providing us with ‘emotional (...) perception’. But I also say why the usual candidate offered – namely feeling or affectivity – does not give us the sought-after perceptual modality. I conclude that as there seems to be nothing else that can provide the needed perceptual modality, we should reject the perceptual theory of emotion.1. (shrink)
I open my eyes and see that the lemon before me is yellow. States like this—states of seeing that p —appear to be visual perceptual states, in some sense. They also appear to be propositional attitudes (and so states with propositional representational contents). It might seem, then, like a view of perceptual experience on which experiences have propositional representational contents—a Propositional View—has to be the correct sort of view for states of seeing that p . And thus (...) we can’t sustain fully general non-Propositional but Representational, or Relational Views of experience. But despite what we might initially be inclined to think when reflecting upon the apparent features of states of seeing that p , a non-propositional view of seeing that p is, I argue, perfectly intelligible. (shrink)
The contents of perceptual experience, it has been argued, often include a characteristic “non-conceptual” component (Evans, 1982). Rejecting such views, McDowell (1994) claims that such contents are conceptual in every respect. It will be shown that this debate is compromised by the failure of both sides to mark a further, and crucial, distinction in cognitive space. This is the distinction between what is doubted here as mindful and mindless modes of perceiving: a distinction which cross-classifies the conceptual / non-conceptual (...) divide. The goal of the paper is to show that there can be both mindful personal level perceptualexperiences whose content cannot be considered conceptual — pace McDowell (1994)— and that there are mindless personal level perceptualexperiences whose content cannot be considered —pace Evans (1982)— nonconceptual. The resulting picture yields a richer four dimensional carving of the space of perceptual experience, and provides a better framework in which to accommodate the many subtleties involved in our sensory confrontations with the world. (shrink)
One of the promising approaches to the problem of perceptual consciousness has been the representational theory, or representationalism. The idea is to reduce the phenomenal character of conscious perceptualexperiences to the representational content of those experiences. Most representationalists appeal specifically to non-conceptual content in reducing phenomenal character to representational content. In this paper, I discuss a series of issues involved in this representationalist appeal to non-conceptual content. The overall argument is the following. On the face (...) of it, conscious perceptual experience appears to be experience of a structured world, hence to be at least partly conceptual. To validate the appeal to non-conceptual content, the representationalist must therefore hold that the content of experience is partly conceptual and partly non-conceptual. But how can the conceptual and the non-conceptual combine to form a single content? The only way to make sense of this notion, I argue, leads to a surprising consequence, namely, that the representational approach to perceptual consciousness is a disguised form of functionalism. (shrink)
We can not just see, hear or feel how things are at a time, but we also have perceptualexperiences as of things moving or changing. I argue that such temporal experiences have a content that is tenseless, i.e. best characterized in terms of notions such as 'before' and 'after' (rather than, say, 'past', 'present' and 'future'), and that such experiences are essentially of the nature of a process that takes up time, viz., the same time (...) as the process that is being experienced. Both claims have been made before, though usually separately from each other, and I don't believe the connection between them has been sufficiently recognized. (shrink)
Perceptualexperiences inform us about objective properties of things in our environment. But they also have perspectival character in the sense that they differ phenomenally when objects are viewed from different points of view. Contemporary representationalists hold, at a minimum, that phenomenal character supervenes on representational content. Thus, in order to account for perspectival character, they need to indentify a type of representational content that changes in appropriate ways with the perceiver’s point of view. Many representationlists, including Shoemaker (...) and Lycan, argue that such contents are best construed in terms of mind-dependent properties. Other representationalists, including Tye and Dretske, hold that these contents involve only mind-independent properties. Susanna Schellenberg has recently developed an account of perceptual experience that would serve these latter representationalists extremely well. She suggests that we can do justice to the perspectival character of perceptual experience by appeal to representations of a certain type of relational properties, so-called ‘situation-dependent properties.’ In this paper, I critically engage with Schellenberg’s proposal in order to show how mind-independent representationalists can explain perspectival character. I argue that appeal to situation-dependent properties is problematic. I then show that mind-independent representationalists can account for perspectical character by means of scenario contents in Christopher Peacocke’s sense. (shrink)
Representationalists hold that the phenomenal character of a perceptual experience is identical with, or supervenes on, an aspect of its representational content. As such, representationalism could be disproved by a counter-example consisting of two experiences that have the same representational content but differ in phenomenal character. In this paper, I discuss two recently proposed counter-examples to representationalism that involve ambiguous or reversible figures. I pursue two goals. My first, and most important, goal is to show that the representationalist (...) can offer plausible responses to both counter-examples. My second goal is to show the implications of these responses for the nature of the spatial representational contents of perceptualexperiences. (shrink)
: Although Externalism is widely accepted as a thesis about belief, as a thesis about experience it is both controversial and unpopular. One potential explanation of this difference involves the phenomenality of perceptual experience—perhaps there is something about how perceptualexperiences seem that straightforwardly speaks against Externalist accounts of their individuation conditions. In this paper, I investigate this idea by exploring the role that the phenomenality of color experience plays in a prominent argument against Phenomenal Externalism: Ned (...) Block’s Inverted Earth Argument. In the course of carrying out this investigation, I will show that challenging Phenomenal Externalism on phenomenological grounds is not as straightforward a task as it is commonly assumed to be. -/- . (shrink)
Much contemporary discussion of perceptual experience can be traced to two observations. The first is that perception seems to put us in direct contact with the world around us: when perception is successful, we come to recognize— immediately—that certain objects have certain properties. The second is that perceptual experience may fail to provide such knowledge: when we fall prey to illusion or hallucination, the way things appear may differ radically from the way things actually are. For much of (...) the twentieth century, many of the most important discussions of perceptual experience could be fruitfully understood as responses to this pair of observations. (shrink)
There is a long-Standing tradition in philosophy that certain metaphysical theories of perceptual experience, if true, would lead to scepticism about the external world, whereas other theories, if true, would develop a non-sceptkal epistemology. I investigate these claims in the context of current metaphysical theories of sense-perception and argue that choice of perceptual ontology is of very limited help in developing a non-sceptical epistemology. Theorists who hold that perception is an intentional state have some advantage in explaining how (...)perceptualexperiences serve as justifying reasons for empirical beliefs. Alston and others have argued that a successful defence of a contemporary version of naïve realism would secure further epistemological advantages. I argue that this is not the case. A complete explanation of experience's reason-giving power involves factors beyond the metaphysical nature of experience. (shrink)
I begin by examining a recent debate between John McDowell and Christopher Peacocke over whether the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual. Although I am sympathetic to Peacocke's claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual, I suggest a number of ways in which his arguments fail to make that case. This failure stems from an over-emphasis on the "fine-grainedness" of perceptual content - a feature that is relatively unimportant to its non-conceptual structure. I go on to describe two (...) other features of perceptual experience that are more likely to be relevant to the claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual. These features are 1) the dependence of a perceived object on the perceptual context in which it is perceived and 2) the dependence of a perceived property on the object it is perceived to be a property of. (shrink)
Reflection on cases involving the occurrence of various types of perceptual activity suggests that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience can be partly determined by agential factors. I discuss the significance of these kinds of case for the dispute about phenomenal character that is at the core of recent philosophy of perception. I then go on to sketch an account of how active and passive elements of phenomenal character are related to one another in activities like watching and (...) looking at things. (shrink)
In the last few years there has been an explosion of philosophical interest in perception; after decades of neglect, it is now one of the most fertile areas for new work. Perceptual Experience presents new work by fifteen of the world's leading philosophers. All papers are written specially for this volume, and they cover a broad range of topics dealing with sensation and representation, consciousness and awareness, and the connections between perception and knowledge and between perception and action. This (...) will be the book on the philosophy of perception, a fascinating resource for philosophers and psychologists. (shrink)
Perceptual reports are utterances of sentences that contain a perceptual verb, such as ‘look’, ‘sound’, ‘feel’, ‘see’, and ‘perceive’. It is natural to suppose that at least in many cases, these types of reports reflect aspects of the phenomenal character and representational content of a subject’s perceptualexperiences. For example, an utterance of ‘my chair looks red but it’s really white’ appears to reflect phenomenal properties of the speaker’s experience of a chair. Whether perceptual reports (...) actually reflect these things is a substantial question and one with which this entry will be partially concerned. This article begins with a linguistic analysis of perceptual verbs and then considers some potential implications of this analysis for the philosophy of perception, given the assumption that perceptual reports sometimes express truths. (shrink)
Recent debates between representational and relational theories of perceptual experience sometimes fail to clarify in what respect the two views differ. In this essay, I explain that the relational view rejects two related claims endorsed by most representationalists: the claim that perceptualexperiences can be erroneous, and the claim that having the same representational content is what explains the indiscriminability of veridical perceptions and phenomenally matching illusions or hallucinations. I then show how the relational view can claim (...) that errors associated with perception should be explained in terms of false judgments, and develop a theory of illusions based on the idea that appearances are properties of objects in the surrounding environment. I provide an account of why appearances are sometimes misleading, and conclude by showing how the availability of this view undermines one of the most common ways of motivating representationalist theories of perception. (shrink)
Though it enjoys widespread support, the claim that perceptualexperiences possess nonconceptual content has been vigorously disputed in the recent literature by those who argue that the content of perceptual experience must be conceptual content. Nonconceptualism and conceptualism are often assumed to be well-defined theoretical approaches that each constitute unitary claims about the contents of experience. In this paper I try to show that this implicit assumption is mistaken, and what consequences this has for the debate about (...)perceptual experience. I distinguish between two different ways that nonconceptualist (and conceptualist) proposals about perceptual content can be understood: as claims about the constituents that compose perceptual contents or as claims about whether a subject. (shrink)
Any theory of perceptual experience should elucidate the way humans exploit it in activities proper to responsible agents, like justifying and revising their beliefs. In this paper I examine the hypothesis that this capacity requires the positing of a perceptual awareness involving a pre-doxastic actualization of concepts. I conclude that this hypothesis is neither necessary nor sufficient to account for empirical rationality. This leaves open the possibility to introduce a doxastic account, according to which the epistemic function of (...) perception is fulfilled by perceptual beliefs. I develop this claim by showing that the doxastic account satisfies a series of intuitive requirements of justification and belief revision. (shrink)
The phenomenal character of perceptual experience involves the representation of colour, spatial and temporal properties, but does it also involve the representation of high-level categories? Is the recognition of an object as a tomato encoded in the phenomenology of perception? Proponents of a conservative view of the reach of phenomenal content say “no”, whereas those who take a liberal view of perceptual phenomenology say “yes”. This paper clarifies the debate between conservatives and liberals, and provides a case in (...) favour of the liberal position: high-level content can inform perceptual phenomenology. (shrink)
The consensus in contemporary philosophy of mind is that how a perceptual experience represents the world to be is built into its sensory phenomenology. I defend an opposing view which I call ‘moderate separatism’, that an experience's sensory phenomenology does not determine how it represents the world to be. I argue for moderate separatism by pointing to two ordinary experiences which instantiate the same sensory phenomenology but differ with regard to their intentional content. Two experiences of an (...) object reflected in a mirror can possess the same spatial phenomenology while representing that object to occupy different spatial locations. So, contrary to the current consensus, the representation of spatial location is not fixed by an experience's sensory phenomenology. (shrink)
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 have these weaknesses. (shrink)
Phenomenal intentionality and the evidential role of perceptual experience: comments on Jack Lyons, Perception and Basic Beliefs Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9604-2 Authors Terry Horgan, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Commonsense epistemology regards perceptual experience as a distinctive source of knowledge of the world around us, unavailable in ‘blindsight’. This is often interpreted in terms of the idea that perceptual experience, through its representational content, provides us with justifying reasons for beliefs about the world around us. I argue that this analysis distorts the explanatory link between perceptual experience and knowledge, as we ordinarily conceive it. I propose an alternative analysis, on which representational content plays no explanatory (...) role: we make perceptual knowledge intelligible by appeal to experienced objects and features. I also present an account of how the commonsense scheme, thus interpreted, is to be defended: not by tracing the role of experience to its contribution in meeting some general condition on propositional knowledge (such as justification), but by subverting the assumption that it has to be possible to make the role of experience intelligible in terms of some such contribution. (shrink)
Journal of Mind and Behavior 28 no. 2 (2007), pp. 135-156. The self-prompting theory of consciousness holds that conscious perceptual experience occurs when non-routine perceptual data prompt the activation of a plan in an executive control system that monitors perceptual input. On the other hand, routine, non-conscious perception merely provides data about the world, which indicatively describes the world correctly or incorrectly. Perceptual experience instead involves data that are about the perceiver, not the world. Their function (...) is that of imperatively prompting the perceiver herself to do something (hence. (shrink)
This paper presents forms of multimodal perceptual experience that undermine the claim that each aspect of perceptual experience is modality speciﬁc. In particular, it argues against the thesis that all phenomenal character is modality speciﬁc (even making an allowance for co-conscious unity). It concludes that a multimodal perceptual episode may have phenomenal features beyond those that are associated with the speciﬁc modalities.
For the purpose of this paper, I take it for granted that subjectivity is an essential character of perceptual experience. What I take issue with is the further claim that subjectivity of experience tends to support the view that phenomenal characters are intrinsic properties of experience. A criticism of the claim can be presented from the perspective of representationalism according to which phenomenal character is a kind of representational character. But representationalism fails to do justice to the fact that (...) from the subjective point of view, we seem to be directly aware of mind-independent objects in the world. A stronger criticism canbe based on the disjunctivist’s view of experience that best accommodates direct awareness of the external world. But disjunctivism rejects the common kind that also seems from the subject’s point of view to be shared by veridical perception and hallucination. The crucial problem is whether disjunctivists can make sense of the phenomenology of hallucination. Focusing the discussion on Martin’s epistemic version of disjunctivism, I hope to show the relevance of solving this problem for a better understanding of the subjectivity of experience. (shrink)
This paper offers a general reply to arguments from perceptual distortion (e.g. blur, perspective, double vision) against the representationalist thesis that the phenomenal characters of experiences supervene on their intentional contents. It has been argued that distorted and undistorted experiences are counterexamples to this thesis because they can share contents without sharing phenomenal characters. In reply, I suggest that cases of perceptual distortion do not constitute counterexamples to the representationalist thesis because the contents of distorted (...) class='Hi'>experiences are always impoverished in some way compared to those of normal experiences. This is can be shown by considering limit cases of perceptual distortion, for example, maximally blurry experiences, which manifestly lack detailed content. I argue that since there is no reasonable way to draw the line between distorted experiences that have degraded content and distorted experiences that don't, we should allow that an increase in distortion is always accompanied by a degradation in content. I also discuss the prospects for a positive account of the contents specific to distorted experiences, which I argue are dim, but for reasons that should not throw doubt on the representationalist thesis. (shrink)
In rubber hand illusions and full body illusions, touch sensations are projected to non-body objects such as rubber hands, dolls or virtual bodies. The robustness, limits and further perceptual consequences of such illusions are not yet fully explored or understood. A number of experiments are reported that test the limits of a variant of the rubber hand illusion. Methodology/Principal Findings -/- A variant of the rubber hand illusion is explored, in which the real and foreign hands are aligned in (...) personal space. The presence of the illusion is ascertained with participants' scores and temperature changes of the real arm. This generates a basic illusion of touch projected to a foreign arm. Participants are presented with further, unusual visuotactile stimuli subsequent to onset of the basic illusion. Such further visuotactile stimulation is found to generate very unusual experiences of supernatural touch and touch on a non-hand object. The finding of touch on a non-hand object conflicts with prior findings, and to resolve this conflict a further hypothesis is successfully tested: that without prior onset of the basic illusion this unusual experience does not occur. Conclusions/Significance -/- A rubber hand illusion is found that can arise when the real and the foreign arm are aligned in personal space. This illusion persists through periods of no tactile stimulation and is strong enough to allow very unusual experiences of touch felt on a cardboard box and experiences of touch produced at a distance, as if by supernatural causation. These findings suggest that one's visual body image is explained away during experience of the illusion and they may be of further importance to understanding the role of experience in delusion formation. The findings of touch on non-hand objects may help reconcile conflicting results in this area of research. In addition, new evidence is provided that relates to the recently discovered psychologically induced temperature changes that occur during the illusion. (shrink)
A conception of recognitional abilities and perceptual-discriminative abilities is deployed to make sense of how perceptualexperiences enable us to make cognitive contact with objects and facts. It is argued that accepting the emerging view does not commit us to thinking that perceptualexperiences are essentially relational, as they are conceived to be in disjunctivist theories. The discussion explores some implications for the theory of knowledge in general and, in particular, for the issue of how (...) we can shed light on the nature of knowledge is if we do not aim to provide conceptual analyses of knowledge in terms of true belief plus something else. Consideration is also given how we can best make sense of the practical value that knowledge has for us. (shrink)
I argue that the transparency of experience provides the basis of arguments both for intentionalism -- understood as the view that there is a necessary connection between perceptual content and perceptual phenomenology -- and for the view that the contents of perceptualexperiences are Russellian propositions. While each of these views is popular, there are apparent tensions between them, and some have thought that their combination is unstable. In the second half of the paper, I respond (...) to these worries by arguing that Russellianism is consistent with intentionalism, that their conjunction is consistent with both internalism about phenomenology and externalism about perceptual content, and that the resulting view receives independent support from the relationship between hallucination and thought. (shrink)
According to Conceptualists like John McDowell and Bill Brewer, the representational content of perceptualexperiences is wholly conceptual. One of the main!and only!arguments they advance for this claim has to do with the epistemological role of perceptualexperiences. I focus on Bill Brewers "1999# version of the argument. I show why Brewer fails to satisfactorily motivate the premises of his argument, and suggest that opponents of Conceptualism could accept these premises without thereby endorsing the conclusion. Finally, (...) I consider whether the conclusion really supports Conceptualism. (shrink)
Liberals claim that some perceptualexperiences give us immediate justification for certain perceptual beliefs. Conservatives claim that the justification that perceptualexperiences give us for those perceptual beliefs is mediated by our background beliefs. In his recent paper ?Basic Justification and the Moorean Response to the Skeptic?, Nico Silins successfully argues for a non-Moorean version of Liberalism. But Silins's defence of non-Moorean Liberalism leaves us with a puzzle: why is it that a necessary condition (...) for our perceptualexperiences to justify us in holding certain perceptual beliefs is that we have some independent justification for disbelieving various sceptical hypotheses? I argue that the best answer to this question involves commitment to Crispin Wright's version of Conservatism. In short, Wright's Conservatism is consistent with Silins's Liberalism, and the latter helps to give us grounds for accepting the former. (shrink)
 Recent philosophy of mind and epistemology has seen an important and influential trend towards accounting for at least some features of experiences in content-involving terms. It is a contested point whether ascribing content to experiences can account for all the intrinsic properties of experiences, but on many theories of experiences there are close links between the ascription of content and the ways in which experiences are ascribed and typed. The issues here have both epistemological (...) and psychological dimensions. On the one hand, a theory of experiential content has a fundamental role in explaining how knowledge of the world can be acquired through experience. On the other hand, there are important psychological questions about the phenomenology of experiences and the conditions under which content ascriptions are made. (shrink)
It has recently been pointed out that perceptual nonconceptualism admits of two different and logically independent interpretations. On the first (content) view, perceptual nonconceptualism is a thesis about the kind of content perceptualexperiences have. On the second (state) view, perceptual nonconceptualism is a thesis about the relation that holds between a subject undergoing a perceptual experience and its content. For the state nonconceptualist, it thus seems consistent to hold that both perceptual (...) class='Hi'>experiences and beliefs share the same (conceptual) content, but that for a subject to undergo a perceptual experience, the subject need not possess the concepts involved in a correct characterization of such content. I argue that the consistency of this position requires a non-Fregean notion of content that fails to capture the way the subject grasps the world as being. Hence state nonconceptualism leaves perceptual content attribution unsupported. Yet, on a characterization of content along the relevant (neo-Fregean) lines, this position would become incoherent, as it would entail that a subject could exercise cognitive abilities she doesn’t possess. I conclude that, given the notion of content demanded by the debate, the state view does entail the content view after all. (shrink)
Recognitional concepts have the following characteristic property: thinkers are disposed to apply them to objects merely on the basis of undergoing certain perceptualexperiences. I argue that a prominent strategy for defending the existence of constitutive connections among concepts, which appeals to thinkersâ semantic-cum-conceptual intuitions, cannot be used to defend the existence of recognitional concepts. I then outline and defend an alternative argument for the existence of recognitional concepts, which appeals to certain psychological laws.
In this paper I argue, against recent claims by Bermúdez () and Toribio (), that within the debate about whether perceptualexperiences are nonconceptual, ‘state nonconceptualism’ (or the ‘state view’) can be a coherent and plausible position. In particular, I explain that state nonconceptualism and content nonconceptualism, when understood in their most plausible and motivated form, presuppose different notions of content. I argue that state nonconceptualism can present a plausible way of unpacking the claim that perceptual (...) class='Hi'>experiences are nonconceptual once the notion of content it should presuppose is taken into account; and once this notion of content is clearly distinguished from the one usually presupposed by content nonconceptualism, the criticisms that Bermúdez and Toribio place against state nonconceptualism become ineffective. (shrink)
The paper proposes a way of bridging the gapbetween physical processes in the brain and the ''''felt''''aspect of sensory experience. The approach is based onthe idea that experience is not generated by brainprocesses themselves, but rather is constituted by theway these brain processes enable a particular form of''''give-and-take'''' between the perceiver and theenvironment. From this starting-point we are able tocharacterize the phenomenological differences betweenthe different sensory modalities in a more principledway than has been done in the past. We are also (...) ableto approach the issues of visual awareness andconsciousness in a satisfactory way. Finally weconsider a number of testable empirical consequences,one of which is the striking prediction of thephenomenon of ''''change blindness''''. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that the given consists of particulars cognized as such in perceptualexperiences. Against this belief it is argued that perceptual cognition must be restricted to universal features. A Nyāya-Kantian argument is presented to reveal the incoherence in the very idea of a conception-free awareness of particulars. For the Naiyāyika philosophers and Kant, conceptualization is a necessary ingredient of perceptual experience, since perceptual cognition requires the possibility of recognition. From this it follows (...) that perceptual cognition must be restricted to universal features. This is surprising, for it rules out the possibility of knowledge of particulars. This counterintuitive consequence can be avoided by reconsidering our intuitive notion of knowledge of particulars. (shrink)
I defend, to a certain extent, the traditional view that perceptual indiscriminability is non-transitive. The argument proceeds by considering important recent work by Benj Hellie: Hellie argues that colour perception represents ‘inexactly’, and that this results in violations of the transitivity of colour indiscriminability. I show that Hellie’s argument remains inconclusive, since he does not demonstrate conclusively that colour perception really does represent inexactly. My own argument for the non-transitivity of perceptual indiscriminability uses inexactness instead as one horn (...) of a dilemma: the key idea is that there is a class of perceptualexperiences which might plausibly be supposed either to represent inexactly or to represent exactly—but which demonstrate the non-transitivity of perceptual indiscriminability either way. (shrink)
In this paper I consider one of the influential challenges to the notion that perceptual experience might be completely conceptually structured, a challenge that rests on the idea that conceptual structure cannot do justice to the fineness of grain of perceptual experience. In so doing, I canvass John McDowell's attempt to meet this challenge by appeal to the notion of demonstrative concepts and review some criticisms recently leveled at McDowell's deployment of demonstrative concepts for this purpose by Sean (...) D. Kelly. Finally, I suggest that, though Kelly's criticisms might challenge McDowell's original presentation of demonstrative concepts, a modified notion of demonstrative concepts is available to the conceptualist that is proof against Kelly's criticisms. (shrink)
What is normativity in perception? The Arguments for Normativity Empirical evidence Kelly’s constitutive claim A Motivation Problem The argument from blurry vision Evaluating the Argument What is Normativity in Perception? Normativity in Perception as Perceptual Confidence What is Perceptual Confidence?
John Searle has argued that all perceptualexperiences are token-reflexive, in the sense that they are constituents of their own veridicality conditions. Many philosophers have found the kind of token-reflexivity he attributes to experiences, which I will call _causal_ token-reflexivity, unfaithful to perceptual phenomenology. In this paper, I develop an argument for a different sort of token-reflexivity in perceptual (as well as some non- perceptual) experiences, which I will call _temporal_ token-reflexivity, and which (...) ought to be phenomenologically unobjectionable. (shrink)
Abstract Since their inception, distributional models of semantics have been criticized as inadequate cognitive theories of human semantic learning and representation. A principal challenge is that the representations derived by distributional models are purely symbolic and are not grounded in perception and action; this challenge has led many to favor feature-based models of semantic representation. We argue that the amount of perceptual and other semantic information that can be learned from purely distributional statistics has been underappreciated. We compare the (...) representations of three feature-based and nine distributional models using a semantic clustering task. Several distributional models demonstrated semantic clustering comparable with clustering-based on feature-based representations. Furthermore, when trained on child-directed speech, the same distributional models perform as well as sensorimotor-based feature representations of children’s lexical semantic knowledge. These results suggest that, to a large extent, information relevant for extracting semantic categories is redundantly coded in perceptual and linguistic experience. Detailed analyses of the semantic clusters of the feature-based and distributional models also reveal that the models make use of complementary cues to semantic organization from the two data streams. Rather than conceptualizing feature-based and distributional models as competing theories, we argue that future focus should be on understanding the cognitive mechanisms humans use to integrate the two sources. (shrink)
the world. 1 Whereas the content of our beliefs, thoughts, and judgements necessarily involves "conceptualization" or "concept application", the content of our perceptualexperiences is, according to Evans, "non-conceptual". Because Evans takes it for granted that we are often able to entertain thoughts about an object in virtue of having perceived it, a central problem in.
In the recent metaethical literature there has been significant interest in the prospects for what I am denoting ‘Perceptual Intuitionism’: the view that normal ethical agents can and do have non-inferential justification for first-order ethical beliefs by having ethical perceptualexperiences, e.g., Cullison 2010, McBrayer 2010, Vayrynen 2008. If true, it promises to constitute an independent a posteriori intuitionist epistemology, providing an alternative to intuitionist accounts which posit a priori intuition and/or emotion as sources of non-inferentially justified (...) ethical beliefs. As it is formulated, it is plausible that a necessary condition for the view is the truth of Ethical Perception: normal ethical agents can and do have perceptualexperiences (at least some of which are veridical) as of the instantiation of ethical properties. In this paper a sophisticated and promising account of Ethical Perception is offered. Extant objections are shown to fail. However, it will be argued that it is far from obvious that the account of Perceptual Intuitionism which emerges constitutes an independent alternative to other intuitionist accounts. This is because we have reason to think that ethical perceptual experience may be epistemically dependent on other epistemic sources, e.g. a priori intuition or emotion. (shrink)
Relying on a range of now-familiar thought-experiments, it has seemed to many philosophers that phenomenal consciousness is beyond the scope of reductive explanation. (Phenomenal consciousness is a form of state-consciousness, which contrasts with creature-consciousness, or perceptual-consciousness. The different forms of state-consciousness include various kinds of access-consciousness, both first-order and higher-order--see Rosenthal, 1986; Block, 1995; Lycan, 1996; Carruthers, 2000. Phenomenal consciousness is the property that mental states have when it is like something to possess them, or when they have subjectively-accessible (...) feels; or as some would say, when they have qualia (see fn.1 below).) Others have thought that we can undermine the credibility of those thought-experiments by allowing that we possess purely recognitional concepts for the properties of our conscious mental states. This paper is concerned to explain, and then to meet, the challenge of showing how purely recognitional concepts are possible if there are no such things as qualia--in the strong sense of intrinsic (non-relational, non-intentional) properties of experience. It argues that an appeal to higher-order experiences is necessary to meet this challenge, and then deploys a novel form of higher-order thought theory to explain how such experiences are generated. (shrink)
I interpret and defend Sellars’ intemalist view of perceptual justification which argues that perceivers have evidence for their perceptual beliefs that includes a higher-order belief about the circumstances in which those beliefs arise, and an epistemic belief about the reliability of beliefs that are formed in those circumstances. The pattem of inference that occurs in ordinary cases of perception is elicited.I then defend this account of perceptual evidence against 1) AIston’s objection that ordinary perceivers are not as (...) critical and reflective as this view requires them to be; and 2) the charge that intemalism leads to various forms of infinite regress and circular reasoning. It is granted that subjects must have further grounds for their justifying reasons, and an attempt is made to identify these second-order reasons. In particular, I argue that epistemic beliefs are grounded in the perceiver’s awareness that his present experience-cum-conditions fits into a larger pattem of similar past experiences that were reliably connected with their objects. (shrink)
Recently, the thesis that experience is fundamentally a matter of representing the world as being a certain way has been questioned by austere relationalists. I defend this thesis by developing a view of perceptual content that avoids their objections. I will argue that on a relational understanding of perceptual content, the fundamental insights of austere relationalism do not compete with perceptual experience being representational. As it will show that most objections to the thesis that experience has content (...) apply only to accounts of perceptual content on which perceptual relations to the world play no explanatory role. With austere relationalists, I will argue that perceptual experience is fundamentally relational. But against austere relationalists, I will argue that it is fundamentally both relational and representational. (shrink)
In this paper I am going to argue that two commonly held views about perceptual experience are incompatible and that one must be given up. The first is the view that the five senses are to be distinguished by appeal to the kind of experiences involved in perception; the second is the view.
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions that arose from the Network for Sensory Research workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of York in March, 2012. This portion of the report explores the question: Can perceptual experience be modified by reason?
This report highlights and explores five questions that arose from the Network for Sensory Research workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of York on March 19th and 20th, 2012: 1. What is perceptual learning? 2. Can perceptual experience be modified by reason? 3. How does perceptual learning alter perceptual phenomenology? 4. How does perceptual learning alter the contents of perception? 5. How is perceptual learning coordinated with action?
The Gestalt principle of isomorphism reveals the primacy of subjective experience as a valid source of evidence for the information encoded neurophysiologically. This theory invalidates the abstractionist view that the neurophysiological representation can be of lower dimensionality than the percept to which it gives rise.
Many viewers presented with a round plate tilted to their line of sight will report that they see a round plate that looks elliptical from their perspective. Alva Noë thinks that we should take reports of this kind as adequate descriptions of the phenomenology of spatial experiences. He argues that his so-called enactive or sensorimotor account of spatial perceptual content explains why both the plate’s circularity and itselliptical appearance are phenomenal aspects of experience. In this paper, I critique (...) the phenomenal adequacy of Noë’s sensorimotor account of spatial perceptual content. I begin by showing that some ofits central claims are in conflict with the phenomenology of perceptual experience. I then argue that shape appearances have no phenomenal reality, thus undermining this central motivation for his account. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it's possible that the contents of some visual experiences are influenced by the subject's prior beliefs, hopes, suspicions, desires, fears or other mental states, and that this possibility places constraints on the theory of perceptual justification that 'dogmatism' or 'phenomenal conservativism' cannot respect.
I take it for granted that sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs; indeed this claim forms the first premise of my central argument for (CC). 1 The subsequent stages of the argument are intended to establish that a person has such a reason for believing something about the way things are in the world around him only if he is in some mental state or other with a conceptual content: a conceptual state. Thus, given that sense experiential states (...) do provide reasons for empirical beliefs, they must have conceptual content. (shrink)
In The Problem of Perception, A.D. Smith’s central aim is to defend the view that we can directly perceive ordinary objects, such as cups, keys and the like.1 The book is organized around the two arguments that Smith considers to be serious threats to the possibility of direct perception: the argument from illusion, and the argument from hallucination. The argument from illusion threatens this possibility because it concludes that indirect realism is true. Indirect realism is the view that we perceive (...) mind-independent ordinary objects, but can only do so indirectly, by perceiving mind-dependent objects: objects whose existence depends on being perceived or thought about. The argument from hallucination draws a similar conclusion: if we perceive mindindependent ordinary objects at all, then our perception of them is indirect in the same way. In responding to these arguments, Smith develops an account of percep- tual consciousness. Perceptual consciousness is a kind of experience, distinct from what Smith calls ‘mere sensory experiences’, or equivalently, ‘mere sensation’. Perceptual consciousness is experience that is properly percep- tual, in which one has the phenomenology of perceiving things in the external world (including one’s body) that exist independently of one’s mind. Perceptual consciousness on its own does not suffice for actually being in perceptual contact with mind-independent reality, although it suffices for it to seem as if one i s . It follows that perceptual consciousness does not suffice for direct perception of ordinary objects, or for direct realism. Nevertheless, Smith holds that the correct account of perceptual consciousness is a crucial element in blocking the arguments from illusion and hallucination, and therefore in supporting the possibility of direct perception. This is an extraordinarily engaging book. Within a single, unified narrative, one encounters the views of many philosophers—Husserl, Fine, Broad, Sextus Empiricus, Loar, Schopenhauer, Meinong, Burge, Dilthey, Russell, Dennett, Sartre, O’Shaughnessy, Evans, Berkeley, Craig, Brentano and many.... (shrink)
The dissertation addresses a debate in the philosophy of perception between conceptualists and nonconceptualists. Its principal thesis is that the intentional content of a perceptual experience is the content of a thought that a reflective subject is in a position to think if she has the experience. I call this claim, endorsed by conceptualists, the thesis of content congruence. Two principal lines of argument are put forward for it. The first, ‘simple’ argument contends that a perceptual experience is (...) a state in which it perceptually appears to the subject that things are thus and so; that a reflective subject who has an experience is in a position to think that things are thus and so; and that the subject in question, in doing so, thinks a thought with the same content as her experience. The second line of argument appeals to the role of perceptual experience in intentional explanation of observational beliefs. It makes the case that such explanation presumes that there is a non-trivial, non-vacuous law linking perceptualexperiences with observational beliefs, and argues that an adherent of content congruence is significantly better placed to formulate such a law (consistently with her view) than her ‘content nonconceptualist’ opponent. The thesis of content congruence has often been associated in the literature with the thesis of state conceptualism, i.e. the claim that the representational capacities in virtue of the activation of which a perceptual experience has the content it has are conceptual. I reject the latter, and explain why we should not expect the denial of that claim, i.e. state nonconceptualism, to be incompatible with content congruence. I defend moreover the thesis of content congruence against the objection that it confuses sense and reference, and the objection that it leads to a viciously circular or otherwise inadequate account of observational or demonstrative concepts. (shrink)
This paper develops and defends the capacity view, that is, the view that the ability to perceive the perspective-independent or intrinsic properties of objects depends on the perceiver’s capacity to act. More specifically, I argue that self-location and spatial know-how are jointly necessary to perceive the intrinsic spatial properties of objects. Representing one’s location allows one to abstract from one’s particular vantage point to perceive the perspective-independent properties of objects. Spatial know-how allows one to perceive objects as the kind of (...) things that are perceivable from points of view other than one’s own and thus to perceive them as three-dimensional space occupiers. (shrink)
Conservatism about perceptual justification tells us that we cannot have perceptual justification to believe p unless we also have justification to believe that perceptualexperiences are reliable. There are many ways to maintain this thesis, ways that have not been sufficiently appreciated. Most of these ways lead to at least one of two problems. The first is an over-intellectualization problem, whereas the second problem concerns the satisfaction of the epistemic basing requirement on justified belief. I argue (...) that there is at least one Conservative view that survives both difficulties, a view which has the further ability to undercut a crucial consideration that has supported Dogmatist views about perceptual justification. The final section explores a tension between Conservatism and the prospects of having a completely general account of propositional justification. Ironically, the problem is that Conservatives seem committed to making the acquisition of propositional justification too easy. My partial defense of Conservatism concludes by suggesting possible solutions to this problem. (shrink)
How does a particular experience evidence a particular perceptual belief for us? As Alvin Plantinga (Warrant and Proper Function, Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 98) puts it, "[W]hat makes it the case that a particular way of being appeared to--being appeared to greenly, say--is evidence for the proposition that I see something green?" Promising, but unsuccessful, answers cite a reliable connection between our having the experience and the belief's being true, our having good reason to believe in such a (...) connection, the proper functioning of our faculties, and objective epistemic norms. A superior view, developed here, is that our experience of being appeared to greenly evidences for us that something is green because we have learned to identify green objects by experiences of that sort. Our learning to do so amounts to our adopting an epistemic norm directing us to form that belief on the basis of that experience. (shrink)
A perceptual experience of a given object seems to make the object itself present to the perceiver’s mind. Many philosophers have claimed that naïve realism (the view that to perceive is to stand in a primitive relation of acquaintance to the world) provides a better account of this phenomenological directness of perceptual experience than does the content view (the view that to perceive is to represent the world to be a certain way). But the naïve realist account of (...) this phenomenology has a conspicuous shortcoming: it explains the phenomenological directness of veridical perceptualexperiences but not of hallucinations. Conversely, I maintain that a particular variety of the content view provides a unified account of the phenomenological directness of both veridical and hallucinatory experiences. If so, then contrary to what is often assumed, the phenomenological facts concerning perceptual experience are explained better by the content view than by naïve realism, and consequently, we have a compelling reason to prefer the content view to naïve realism. (shrink)
In the present paper, I shall argue that disjunctively construed naïve realism about the nature of perceptualexperiences succumbs to the empirically inspired causal argument. The causal argument highlights as a first step that local action necessitates the presence of a type-identical common kind of mental state shared by all perceptualexperiences. In a second step, it sets out that the property of being a veridical perception cannot be a mental property. It results that the mental (...) nature of perceptions must be exhausted by the occurrence of inner sensory experiences that narrowly supervene on the perceiver. That is, empirical objects fail directly to determine the perceptual consciousness of the perceiver. The upshot is that not only naïve realism, but also certain further forms of direct realism have to be abandoned. (shrink)
The strong sensorimotor account of perception gives self-induced movements two constitutive roles in explaining visual consciousness. The first says that self-induced movements are vehicles of visual awareness, and for this reason consciousness ‘does not happen in the brain only’. The second says that the phenomenal nature of visual experiences is consists in the action-directing content of vision. In response I suggest, first, that the sense in which visual awareness is active should be explained by appeal to the role of (...) attention in visual consciousness, rather than self-induced movements; and second, that the sense in which perceptual consciousness does not happen in the brain only should be explained by appeal to the relational nature of perceptual consciousness, appeal to which also shows why links with action cannot exhaust phenomenal content. (shrink)
The control of action has traditionally been described as "automatic". In particular, movement control may occur without conscious awareness, in contrast to normal visual perception. Studies on rapid visuomotor adjustment of reaching movements following a target shift have played a large part in introducing such distinctions. We suggest that previous studies of the relation between motor performance and perceptual awareness have confounded two separate dissociations. These are: (a) the distinction between motoric and perceptual representations, and (b) an orthogonal (...) distinction between conscious and unconscious processes. To articulate these differences more clearly, we propose a new measure of motor awareness, based on subjects' ability to reproduce the spatial details of reaching movements they have just made. Here we focus on the dissociation between motor awareness and perceptual awareness that may occur when subjects make rapid visuomotor adjustments to reaching movements following a target shift. In experiment 1, motor awareness was dissociated from perceptual awareness of a target shift during reaching movement. Participants' reproduction of movement endpoints following visuomotor adjustment was independent of whether they saw the target shift or not. Experiment 2 replicated this result, and further showed that neither motor awareness nor motor performance were disrupted by TMS over the parietal cortex. The neural mechanisms underlying motor awareness, and the implications for theories of consciousness, are discussed. (shrink)
The highly enjoyable experiences associated with drinking good wines have been widely misunderstood. It is common to regard wine appreciation as an analytical or quasi-scientific kind of activity, in which wine experts carefully distinguish the precise sensory qualities of each wine, and then pass on their accumulated factual knowledge to less experienced wine enthusiasts. However, this model of wine appreciation is seriously defective. One good way to show its defects is to provide a better and more fundamental scientific account (...) of what is involved in wine appreciation. In order to do so, I outline a novel, evolutionarily based theory of perceptual consciousness that explains why there must be imaginative as well as analytical kinds of experiences of wines. In addition, imaginative wine experiences, unlike typical imaginative artistic experiences, may be shown to involve highly individualistic, improvisatory elements that help to give wine drinking a unique place among the recreational arts. (shrink)
Not only does peirce's theory of meaning as dispositional or as habit contain parallels with merleau-ponty's view of meaning in the structure of human behavior, but also both peirce and merleau-ponty alike attack reductivistic theories of perception. within this context, the present paper focuses on the use of kantian schemata in the philosophies of peirce and merleau-ponty, but to the extent that such incorporations are consistent with trends in pragmatism and phenomenology in general, it will reveal points of encounter not (...) just between peirce and merleau-ponty but between pragmatism and phenomenology in general. (shrink)
Previous studies have shown that misperceptions and illusory experiences can occur if sensory stimulation is withdrawn or becomes invariant even for short periods of time. Using a perceptual deprivation paradigm, we created a monotonous audiovisual environment and asked participants to verbally report any auditory, visual or body-related phenomena they experienced. The data (analysed using a variant of interpretative phenomenological analysis) revealed two main themes: (1) reported sensory phenomena have different spatial characteristics ranging from simple percepts to the feeling (...) of immersion in a complex multisensory environment and (2) the active contribution of the perceiver where participants report engaging in exploratory processes even when there is nothing to find. Detailed analysis of the qualitative data further showed that participants who reported more perceptual phenomena were more likely to report internal bodily sensations, move more during the experiment and score higher on the Revised Hallucination Scale than those reporting fewer percepts explicitly linking perceptual deprivation to somatic phenomena. The results demonstrate how the variety of sensory experiences induced by perceptual deprivation can give further insight into the factors mediating conscious awareness and may suggest ways in which the brain imposes meaning on the environment under invariant sensory conditions. (shrink)
Questionnaires on perceptual distortions, symptoms of schizophrenia, and out-of-body experiences (OBEs) were completed by 71 volunteers with a history of schizophrenia and 40 control subjects (patients in a hospital accident ward). Significantly more of the schizophrenics (42%) than of the control group (13%) answered "yes" to a question about OBEs. However, a follow-up questionnaire showed that only 14% of schizophrenics (i.e., the same as the control group) had had "typical" OBEs, in which a change of viewpoint was reported. (...) Those reporting typical OBEs did not report more perceptual distortions or symptoms of schizophrenia than did those reporting no OBEs, although those reporting other atypical experiences did. On this basis there is no evidence to consider the typical OBE as pathological or as symptomatic of schizophrenia. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that McDowell’s brand of disjunctivism about perceptual knowledge is ill-motivated. First, I present a reconstruction of one main motivation for disjunctivism, in the form of an argument that theories that posit a “highest common factor” between veridical and non-veridical experiences must be wrong. Then I show that the argument owes its plausibility to a failure to distinguish between justification and warrant (where “warrant” is understood as whatever has to be added to true belief (...) to yield knowledge). (shrink)
In this paper I argue that McDowell’s brand of disjunctivism about perceptual knowledge is ill-motivated. First, I present a reconstruction of one main motivation for disjunctivism, in the form of an argument that theories that posit a “highest common factor” between veridical and non-veridical experiences must be wrong. Then I show that the argument owes its plausibility to a failure to distinguish between justification and warrant (where “warrant” is understood as whatever has to be added to true belief (...) to yield knowledge). (shrink)