About this topic
Summary The causal theory of perception consists roughly of the claim that necessarily, if a subject S sees an object O, then O causes S to have a visual experience. Some have held that this claim is a conceptual truth. Thus, the idea is that in order to see an object, the object must be causally responsible for your visual experience. The causal theory of perception rules out certain problem cases as genuine instances of seeing: For instance, suppose that: (a) I seem to see a red ball at a certain distance and direction, (b) there is a red ball at precisely that distance and direction, but (c) unbeknownst to me, there is a mirror interposed between me and the red ball that reflects the image of a qualitative duplicate of the ball, and the reflection is what causes my visual experience. Here it seems wrong to say that I see the red ball behind the mirror. The causal theory of perception agrees with this judgment: Because the ball is not causally responsible for my experience, I do not see it.
Key works H.P. Grice originally propounded the main argument for the causal theory of perception in his 1961 paper (Grice 1988). Other proponents of the theory include Pears 1976 and Strawson 1974Snowdon 1980 argues against the claim that the causal requirement on perception is a conceptual truth. Others have raised counterexamples to the claim that a certain type of causal relation is both necessary and sufficient for perceiving (Lewis 1980Mclaughlin 1984).
Introductions Grice 1988Pears 1976, Strawson 1974
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89 found
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  1. added 2018-11-05
    A Causal Analysis of Seeing.Michael Tye - 1982 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 42 (3):311-325.
  2. added 2018-10-07
    We Are Not Alone: Perception and The Others.Andrea Bucci - 2018 - Brainfactor:1-14.
    In this paper, I have outlined an original Metaphysics of Perception which takes into consideration some of the most common views about perception in the contemporary debate. Then I will look at the consequences of this metaphysics about our perception of others and what we know about them. In the third section, I suggest how to make sense of certain neuroscientific discoveries about social perception and social cognition. In the conclusion, I recap what has been done to say that others (...)
  3. added 2018-06-08
    On Silhouettes, Surfaces and Sorensen.Thomas Raleigh - 2018 - In Clare Mac Cumhaill & Thomas Crowther (eds.), Perceptual Ephemera. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 194-218.
    In his book “Seeing Dark Things” (2008), Roy Sorensen provides many wonderfully ingenious arguments for many surprising, counter-intuitive claims. One such claim in particular is that when we a silhouetted object – i.e. an opaque object lit entirely from behind – we literally see its back-side – i.e. we see the full expanse of the surface facing away from us that is blocking the incoming light. Sorensen himself admits that this seems a tough pill to swallow, later characterising it as (...)
  4. added 2018-05-18
    The Best With What We Have: A Threefold Metaphysics of Perception.Andrea Bucci - 2018 - Brainfactor:1-11.
    In this paper I will try to outline a Metaphysics of Perception that takes for granted one of the central thesis of the metaphysical doctrine called Indirect Realism. Firstly, I will introduce the central thesis of Indirect Realism and then a special version of the Causal Theory of Perception that modifies in some fundamental respect one of the most influential version of Causal Theory of Perception designed by William Child.
  5. added 2017-11-08
    New Foundations for Qualitative Physics.Jean Petitot & Barry Smith - 1990 - In J. E. Tiles, G. T. McKee & C. G. Dean (eds.), Evolving Knowledge in Natural Science and Artificial Intelligence. London: Pitman Publishing. pp. 231-49.
    Physical reality is all the reality we have, and so physical theory in the standard sense is all the ontology we need. This, at least, was an assumption taken almost universally for granted by the advocates of exact philosophy for much of the present century. Every event, it was held, is a physical event, and all structure in reality is physical structure. The grip of this assumption has perhaps been gradually weakened in recent years as far as the sciences of (...)
  6. added 2017-10-03
    Reply to Gillett.Max Velmans - 1992 - Philosophical Psychology 5 (2):181 – 182.
    This reply appeared in a symposium on "Consciousness and the Physical World" published in Philosophical Psychology in 1992.This was the first symposium on Velmans' Reflexive Model of Perception (the departure point for Reflexive Monism) initially presented in "Consciousness, Brain and the Physical World" (1990) also in Philosophical Psychology. The symposium begins with Velmans' summary of the main arguments in that paper, followed by critiques from two psychologists--Robert Rentoul and Norman Wetherick. Velmans replies to the critiques and the entire treatment is (...)
  7. added 2017-02-15
    Causal Relations in Visual Perception in Naturalistic Epistemology: A Symposium of Two Decades.J. Heffner - 1987 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 100:193-214.
  8. added 2017-02-15
    The Perception of Causality. [REVIEW]J. B. R. - 1964 - Review of Metaphysics 18 (1):180-181.
  9. added 2017-02-14
    1 Strawson's Rationale for the Causal Theory of Perception.Johannes Roessler - 2011 - In Johannes Roessler, Hemdat Lerman & Naomi Eilan (eds.), Perception, Causation, and Objectivity. Oxford University Press. pp. 103.
  10. added 2017-02-13
    Causal Inference in Perception.Ladan Shams & Ulrik R. Beierholm - 2010 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14 (9):425-432.
  11. added 2017-02-13
    Development of Causal Perception.L. M. Oakes - 2003 - In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group. pp. 1--456.
  12. added 2017-02-13
    Causality and the Perception of Time.David M. Eagleman & Alex O. Holcombe - 2002 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 6 (8):323-325.
  13. added 2017-01-23
    Seeing Perfectly Dark Things and the Causal Conditions of Seeing.Richard J. Hall - 1979 - Theoria 45 (3):127-134.
  14. added 2016-12-08
    Causal Analyses of Seeing.Campbell Scott - 2002 - Erkenntnis 56 (2):169-180.
    I critically analyse two causal analyses of seeing, by Frank Jackson and Michael Tye. I show that both are unacceptable. I argue that Jackson's analysis fails because it does not rule out cases of non-seeing. Tye's analysis seems to be superior to Jackson's in this respect, but I show that it too lets in cases of non-seeing. I also show that Tye's proposed solution to a problem for his theory -- which involves a robot that mimics another (unseen) robot -- (...)
  15. added 2016-10-26
    Folk Intuitions About the Causal Theory of Perception.Pendaran Roberts, Keith Allen & Kelly Schmidtke - 2016 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    It is widely held by philosophers not only that there is a causal condition on perception but also that the causal condition is a conceptual truth about perception. One influential line of argument for this claim is based on intuitive responses to a style of thought experiment popularized by Grice. Given the significance of these thought experiments to the literature, it is important to see whether the folk in fact respond to these cases in the way that philosophers assume they (...)
  16. added 2016-03-10
    Perception, Causation, and Objectivity.Johannes Roessler, Hemdat Lerman & Naomi Eilan (eds.) - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    Perceptual experience, that paradigm of subjectivity, constitutes our most immediate and fundamental access to the objective world. At least, this would seem to be so if commonsense realism is correct — if perceptual experience is (in general) an immediate awareness of mind-independent objects, and a source of direct knowledge of what such objects are like. Commonsense realism raises many questions. First, can we be more precise about its commitments? Does it entail any particular conception of the nature of perceptual experience (...)
  17. added 2015-10-20
    Getting Objects for Free (Or Not): The Philosophy and Psychology of Object Perception.Gary Hatfield - 2009 - In Perception and Cognition: Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology. Clarendon Press. pp. 212-255.
  18. added 2015-07-06
    Review of The Problem of Perception By A.D. Smith. [REVIEW]Fiona Macpherson - 2004 - Philosophical Books 45 (3):255-257.
  19. added 2015-04-07
    The Deviance in Deviant Causal Chains.Neil McDonnell - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):162-170.
    Causal theories of action, perception and knowledge are each beset by problems of so-called ‘deviant’ causal chains. For each such theory, counterexamples are formed using odd or co-incidental causal chains to establish that the theory is committed to unpalatable claims about some intentional action, about a case of veridical perception or about the acquisition of genuine knowledge. In this paper I will argue that three well-known examples of a deviant causal chain have something in common: they each violate Yablos proportionality (...)
  20. added 2014-08-11
    Lambert Wiesing, Sehen lassen. Die Praxis des Zeigens, Berlin 2013. [REVIEW]Martina Sauer - 2014 - Sehepunkte. Rezensionsjournal für Geschichtswissenschaften 14 (3).
  21. added 2014-03-27
    Problems of Vision: Rethinking the Causal Theory of Perception.Gerald Vision - 1996 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    In this book Gerald Vision argues for a new causal theory, one that engages provocatively with direct realism and makes no use of a now discredited subjectivism.
  22. added 2014-03-23
    Function, Perception and Normal Causal Chains.Carolyn S. Price - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 89 (1):31-51.
  23. added 2014-03-20
    A Naturalistic, Reflexive Dispositional Approach to Perception.John Dilworth - 2005 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 43 (4):583-601.
    This paper will investigate the basic question of the nature of perception, as theoretically approached from a purely naturalistic standpoint. An adequate theory must not only have clear application to a world full of pre-existing biological examples of perception of all kinds, from unicellular perception to conscious human perception, but it must also satisfy a series of theoretical or philosophical constraints, as enumerated and discussed in Section 1 below. A perceptual theory invoking _reflexive dispositions_--that is, dispositions directed toward the very (...)
  24. added 2014-03-20
    Perceptual Causality Problems Reflexively Resolved.John Dilworth - 2005 - Acta Analytica 20 (3):11-31.
    Causal theories of perception typically have problems in explaining deviant causal chains. They also have difficulty with other unusual putative cases of perception involving prosthetic aids, defective perception, scientifically extended cases of perception, and so on. But I show how a more adequate reflexive causal theory, in which objects or properties X cause a perceiver to acquire X-related dispositions toward that very same item X, can provide a plausible and principled perceptual explanation of all of these kinds of cases. A (...)
  25. added 2014-03-19
    A Reflexive Dispositional Analysis of Mechanistic Perception.John Dilworth - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (4):479-493.
    The field of machine perception is based on standard informational and computational approaches to perception. But naturalistic informational theories are widely regarded as being inadequate, while purely syntactic computational approaches give no account of perceptual content. Thus there is a significant need for a novel, purely naturalistic perceptual theory not based on informational or computational concepts, which could provide a new paradigm for mechanistic perception. Now specifically evolutionary naturalistic approaches to perception have been—perhaps surprisingly—almost completely neglected for this purpose. Arguably (...)
  26. added 2014-03-16
    Seeing Dark Things: The Philosophy of Shadows.Roy Sorensen - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
    The eclipse riddle -- Seeing surfaces -- The disappearing act -- Spinning shadows -- Berkeley's shadow -- Para-reflections -- Para-refractions : shadowgrams and the black drop -- Goethe's colored shadows -- Filtows -- Holes in the light -- Black and blue -- Seeing in black and white -- We see in the dark -- Hearing silence.
  27. added 2014-03-12
    Naturalized Perception Without Information.John Dilworth - 2004 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 25 (4):349-368.
    The outlines of a novel, fully naturalistic theory of perception are provided, that can explain perception of an object X by organism Z in terms of reflexive causality. On the reflexive view proposed, organism Z perceives object or property X just in case X causes Z to acquire causal dispositions reflexively directed back upon X itself. This broadly functionalist theory is potentially capable of explaining both perceptual representation and perceptual content in purely causal terms, making no use of informational concepts. (...)
  28. added 2014-03-09
    The Reappearing Act.István Aranyosi - 2009 - Acta Analytica 24 (1):1 - 10.
    In his latest book, Roy Sorensen offers a solution to a puzzle he put forward in an earlier article -The Disappearing Act. The puzzle involves various question about how the causal theory perception is to be applied to the case of seeing shadows. Sorensen argues that the puzzle should be taken as bringing out a new way of seeing shadows. I point out a problem for Sorensen’s solution, and offer and defend an alternative view, according to which the puzzle is (...)
  29. added 2014-02-10
    Content and Causation in Perception.Michael Pendlebury - 1994 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (4):767-785.
  30. added 2014-02-10
    Causation and Perception in Reid.George S. Pappas - 1990 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (4):763-766.
  31. added 2014-02-10
    How to Rescue the Traditional Causal Theory of Perception.Robert A. Oakes - 1978 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (March):370-383.
  32. added 2013-05-18
    The Causal Self‐Referential Theory of Perception Revisited.Jan Almäng - 2013 - Dialectica 67 (1):29-53.
    This is a paper about The Causal Self-Referential Theory of Perception. According to The Causal Self-Referential Theory as developed by above all John Searle and David Woodruff Smith, perceptual content is satisfied by an object only if the object in question has caused the perceptual experience. I argue initially that Searle's account cannot explain the distinction between hallucination and illusion since it requires that the state of affairs that is presented in the perceptual experience must exist in order for the (...)
  33. added 2013-05-18
    The Evidence of Our Senses.John Hyman - 2003 - In Hans-Johann Glock (ed.), Strawson and Kant. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    The modern causal theory of perception—the theory defended by Grice and Strawson—differs from the classical theory advanced by Descartes and Locke in two ways. First, the modern theory is an exercise in conceptual analysis. Secondly, it is a version of what is sometimes called direct realism. I shall comment on these points in turn.
  34. added 2013-05-18
    Symposium: The Causal Theory of Perception.H. P. Grice & Alan R. White - 1961 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 35:121 - 168.
  35. added 2013-04-12
    The Causal Theory of Visual Perception.John Heffner - 1981 - International Philosophical Quarterly 21 (3):301-330.
  36. added 2013-03-11
    Note on Two Snowdon Criticisms of the Causal Theory of Perception.Walter Horn - 2012 - Acta Analytica 27 (4):441-447.
    Two arguments Paul Snowdon has brought against the causal theory of perception are examined. One involves the claim that, based on the phenomenology of perceptual situations, it cannot be the case that perception is an essentially causal concept. The other is a reductio , according to which causal theorists’ arguments imply that a proposition Snowdon takes to be obviously non-causal ( A is married to B ) can be analyzed into some sort of indefinite ‘spousal connection’ plus a causal ingredient (...)
  37. added 2013-03-11
    The Causal Theory of Perception Revisited.Valtteri Arstila & Kalle Pihlainen - 2009 - Erkenntnis 70 (3):397-417.
    It is generally agreed upon that Grice's causal theory of perception describes a necessary condition for perception. It does not describe sufficient conditions, however, since there are entities in causal chains that we do not perceive and not all causal chains yield perceptions. One strategy for overcoming these problems is that of strengthening the notion of causality. Another is that of specifying the criteria according to which perceptual experiences should match the way the world is. Finally, one can also try (...)
  38. added 2011-03-24
    In Defense of Relational Direct Realism.Kenneth Hobson - 2013 - European Journal of Philosophy 21 (4):550-574.
    According to proponents of relational direct realism, veridical perceptual experiences are irreducibly relational mental states that include as constituents perceived physical objects or intrinsic aspects of them. One consequence of the theory is the rejection of the causal theory of perception. This paper defends the relational theory against several objections recently developed by Paul Coates. He argues that the required experiential relation is incoherent and unmotivated. The argument that it is incoherent commits a fallacy. In reply to the argument that (...)
  39. added 2010-08-13
    Color Within an Internalist Framework : The Role of Color in the Structure of the Perceptual System.Rainer Mausfeld - 2010 - In Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. MIT Press.
    Colour is, according to prevailing orthodoxy in perceptual psychology, a kind of autonomous and unitary attribute. It is regarded as unitary or homogeneous by assuming that its core properties do not depend on the type of ‘perceptual object’ to which it pertains and that‘colour per se’ constitutes a natural attribute in the functional architecture of the perceptual system. It is regarded as autonomous by assuming that it can be studied in isolation of other perceptual attributes. These assumptions also provide the (...)
  40. added 2010-06-22
    Pragmatism and Realism.Tadeusz Szubka - 2002 - New York: Routledge.
  41. added 2010-06-22
    The Philosophy of P.F. Strawson.Paul F. Snowdon - 1998 - Chicago: Open Court.
  42. added 2010-06-22
    Perception.Kathleen Akins (ed.) - 1996 - Oxford University Press.
  43. added 2010-06-22
    The Philosophy of P.F. Strawson.P. F. Strawson, Pranab Kumar Sen & Roop Rekha Verma (eds.) - 1995 - Allied Publishers.
    Festschrift honoring P.F. Strawson; includes contributed articles on his contributions in logic and on logic.
  44. added 2010-06-22
    New Readings in Philosophical Analysis.Herbert Feigl - 1972 - New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
  45. added 2009-07-03
    Causality, Interpretation, and the Mind.William Child - 1994 - Oxford University Press.
    Philosophers of mind have long been interested in the relation between two ideas: that causality plays an essential role in our understanding of the mental; and that we can gain an understanding of belief and desire by considering the ascription of attitudes to people on the basis of what they say and do. Many have thought that those ideas are incompatible. William Child argues that there is in fact no tension between them, and that we should accept both. He shows (...)
  46. added 2009-04-07
    Scientific Methodology and the Causal Theory of Perception.Grover Maxwell - 1972 - In Herbert Feigl, Wilfrid Sellars & Keith Lehrer (eds.), New Readings in Philosophical Analysis. Appleton-Century-Crofts. pp. 289-314.
  47. added 2009-04-06
    Review of Roy Sorensen's Seeing Dark Things. The Philosophy of Shadows[REVIEW]István Aranyosi - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (3):513-515.
  48. added 2009-04-06
    Vision and Experience: The Causal Theory and the Disjunctive Conception.William Child - 1992 - Philosophical Quarterly 42 (168):297-316.
  49. added 2008-12-31
    The Reflexive Theory of Perception.John Dilworth - 2005 - Behavior and Philosophy 33 (1):17-40.
    ABSTRACT: The Reflexive Theory of Perception (RTP) claims that perception of an object or property X by an organism Z consists in Z being caused by X to acquire some disposition D toward X itself. This broadly behavioral perceptual theory explains perceptual intentionality and correct versus incorrect, plus successful versus unsuccessful, perception in a plausible evolutionary framework. The theory also undermines cognitive and perceptual modularity assumptions, including informational or purely epistemic views of perception in that, according to the RTP, any (...)
  50. added 2008-12-31
    Causation and Perception: The Puzzle Unravelled.Alva Noe - 2003 - Analysis 63 (2):93-100.
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