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The objects of perception are what we are directly aware of when perceiving. Are these objects physical objects in our environment? Direct realists argue they are. A common challenge to direct realism draws on cases of hallucination: when I am hallucinating, I seem to be perceptually aware of something, yet there is no physical object present for me to be aware of. By contrast to direct realists, sense datum theorists maintain that sense data rather than physical objects in our environment are immediately present to the mind. Sense data are mind-dependent objects that actually have the properties (e.g., color and shape) that we may take external objects to possess in perception. There are two varieties of sense datum theory. On indirect realist views, sense data “stand in for” or represent physical objects. On idealist views, we are directly aware of sense data, yet there are no physical objects for which they stand in. A different type of position is developed by intentionalists, who distinguish the object of perception from its content. On this view, perceptual states are intentionally directed toward physical objects and their properties, yet physical objects can be misrepresented in perception because the content of a perceptual state may fail to match its object.

Key works Versions of direct realism have recently been defended by Brewer 2007, Campbell 2002, and Martin 2002. Versions of indirect realism have been defended by Broad 1925, Jackson 1978, Robinson 1994, and Russell 1912. Classic arguments for idealism appear in Berkeley 1988, and a recent defense can be found in Foster 2000. Intentionalist views have been developed by Anscombe 1965, Harman 1990, Crane 2001, and Byrne 2001.
Introductions Crane 2005, Huemer 2005, O'Brien 2003.
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  1. 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 (...)
  2. Pretending to See.Marc Alspector-Kelly - 2006 - Philosophical Psychology 19 (6):713-728.
    There are three distinct projects - ontological, phenomenological, and conceptual - to pursue in the philosophy of perception. They are, however, rarely distinguished. Failure to distinguish them has resulted in their being pursued as one. Their completion then requires that they admit of the same solution, while accommodating the existence of misperception and the scientific facts concerning the perceptual process. The lesson to learn from misperceptions and those facts is, however, that no such common solution is possible, and that the (...)
  3. Seeing the Unobservable: Van Fraassen and the Limits of Experience. [REVIEW]Marc Alspector-Kelly - 2004 - Synthese 140 (3):331-353.
    Van Fraassen maintains that the information that we canglean from experience is limited to those entities and processes that are detectable bymeans of our unaided senses. His challenge to the realist, I suggest, is that the attemptto inferentially transcend those limits amounts to a reversion to rationalism. Under pressurefrom such examples as microscopic observation, he has recently widened the scope of thephenomena to include object-like experiences without empirical objects of experience.With this change in mind, I argue that van Fraassen needs (...)
  4. The Intentionality of Sensation: A Grammatical Feature.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1965 - In Ronald J. Butler (ed.), Analytic Philosophy. Blackwell. pp. 158-80.
  5. Review of Roy Sorensen's Seeing Dark Things. The Philosophy of Shadows[REVIEW]István Aranyosi - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (3):513-515.
  6. Perception and Definition.Edward W. Averill - 1958 - Journal of Philosophy 55 (July):690-698.
  7. In What Sense Two Persons Perceive the Same Thing.Samuel Barnett - 1916 - Philosophical Review 25 (6):837-842.
  8. Scenes and Other Situations.Jon Barwise - 1981 - Journal of Philosophy 78 (7):369-397.
  9. A Representational Account of Olfactory Experience.Clare Batty - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (4):511-538.
    Much of the philosophical work on perception has focused on vision, with very little discussion of the chemical senses—olfaction and gustation. In this paper, I consider the challenge that olfactory experience presents to upholding a representational view of the sense modalities. Given the phenomenology of olfactory experience, it is difficult to see what a representational view of it would be like. Olfaction, then, presents an important challenge for representational theories to overcome. In this paper, I take on this challenge and (...)
  10. Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues.George Berkeley - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
    Berkeley's idealism started a revolution in philosophy. As one of the great empiricist thinkers he not only influenced British philosophers from Hume to Russell and the logical positivists in the twentieth century, he also set the scene for the continental idealism of Hegel and even the philosophy of Marx. -/- There has never been such a radical critique of common sense and perception as that given in Berkeley's Principles of Human Knowledge (1710). His views were met with disfavour, and his (...)
  11. The Object Properties Model of Object Perception: Between the Binding Model and the Theoretical Model.Jose Bermudez - 2007 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 9-10):43-65.
    This article proposes an object properties approach to object perception. By thinking about objects as clusters of co-instantiated features that possess certain canonical higher-order object properties we can steer a middle way between two extreme views that are dominant in different areas of empirical research into object perception and the development of the object concept. Object perception should be understood in terms of perceptual sensitivity to those object properties, where that perceptual sensitivity can be explained in a manner consistent with (...)
  12. Consciousness and its Object.Boyd H. Bode - 1912 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 9 (19):505-513.
  13. Roderick Chisholm.Radu J. Bogdan (ed.) - 1986 - Reidel: Dordrecht.
    RODERICK M. CHISHOLM SELF-PROFILE A. My Philosophical Education Academic What brought me into philosophy was an excellent introductory course in the subject ...
  14. The Objects of Perception.Radu J. Bogdan - 1986 - In Roderick Chisholm. Reidel: Dordrecht.
    Our perceptions, beliefs, thoughts and memories have objects. They are about or of things and properties around us. I perceive her, have beliefs about her, think of her and have memories of her. How are we to construe this aboutness (or ofness) of our cognitive states?' There are four major choices on the philosophical market. There is an interaction approach which says that the object of cognition is fixed by and understood in terms of what cognizers physically and sensorily interact (...)
  15. Intensional Perceptual Ascriptions.David Bourget - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (3):513-530.
    This paper defends the view that perceptual ascriptions such as “Jones sees a cat” are sometimes intensional. I offer a range of examples of intensional perceptual ascriptions, respond to objections to intensional readings of perceptual ascriptions, and show how widely accepted semantic accounts of intensionality can explain the key features of intensional perceptual ascriptions.
  16. Perception and its Objects.Bill Brewer - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):87-97.
    Physical objects are such things as stones, tables, trees, people and other animals: the persisting macroscopic constituents of the world we live in. therefore expresses a commonsense commitment to physical realism: the persisting macroscopic constituents of the world we live in exist, and are as they are, quite independently of anyone.
  17. The Mind and its Place in Nature.C. D. Broad - 1925 - Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  18. Perception and Meaning.Harold I. Brown - 1972 - American Philosophical Quarterly 6:1-9.
  19. Perception of Features and Perception of Objects.Daniel Burnston & Jonathan Cohen - 2012 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):283-314.
    There is a long and distinguished tradition in philosophy and psychology according to which the mind’s fundamental, foundational connection to the world is made by connecting perceptually to features of objects. On this picture, which we’ll call feature prioritarianism, minds like ours first make contact with the colors, shapes, and sizes of distal items, and then, only on the basis of the representations so obtained, build up representations of the objects that bear these features. The feature priority view maintains, then, (...)
  20. Intentionalism Defended.Alex Byrne - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (2):199-240.
  21. Reference and Consciousness.J. Campbell - 2002 - Oxford University Press.
    John Campbell investigates how consciousness of the world explains our ability to think about the world; how our ability to think about objects we can see depends on our capacity for conscious visual attention to those things. He illuminates classical problems about thought, reference, and experience by looking at the underlying psychological mechanisms on which conscious attention depends.
  22. Seeing Objects and Surfaces, and the 'in Virtue Of' Relation.Scott Campbell - 2004 - Philosophy 79 (309):393-402.
    Frank Jackson in Perception uses the relation to ground the distinction between direct and indirect perception. He argues that it follows that our perception of physical objects is mediated by perceiving their facing surfaces, and so is indirect. I argue that this is false. Seeing a part of an object is in itself a seeing of the object; there is no indirectness involved. Hence, the relation is an inadequate basis for the direct-indirect distinction. I also argue that claims that we (...)
  23. The Time-Gap Argument.L. S. Carrier - 1969 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 47 (3):263-272.
    I argue that the time-gap argument poses no objection to Direct Realism. In the case of exploded stars many light years from us, what we see is no longer the star, but its light. I argue that in all cases of seeing we see light, but only when physical objects exist at the time of our seeing do we see them.
  24. Experience And The Objects Of Perception.Leonard S. Carrier - 1981 - Washington: University Press Of America.
    This work argues for a Direct Realist view of the perception of public objects. It argues against the need for special intermediary sensory objects, or sense impressions, requiring only stages in a physical process beginning with events at the surface of a physical object, the resultant stimulation of one's sense organs, and finally the excitation of the sensory portions of one's brain.
  25. Wine Active Compounds 2008: Proceedings of the WAC2008 International Conference.David Chassange (ed.) - 2008 - Oenapluria Media.
  26. Feature-Placing and Proto-Objects.Austen Clark - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (4):443-469.
    This paper contrasts three different schemes of reference relevant to understanding systems of perceptual representation: a location-based system dubbed "feature-placing", a system of "visual indices" referring to things called "proto-objects", and the full sortal-based individuation allowed by a natural language. The first three sections summarize some of the key arguments (in Clark, 2000) to the effect that the early, parallel, and pre-attentive registration of sensory features itself constitutes a simple system of nonconceptual mental representation. In particular, feature integration--perceiving something as (...)
  27. Objects, Places, and Perception.Jonathan Cohen - 2004 - Philosophical Psychology 17 (4):471-495.
    In Clark (2000), Austen Clark argues convincingly that a widespread view of perception as a complicated kind of feature-extraction is incomplete. He argues that perception has another crucial representational ingredient: it must also involve the representation of "sensory individuals" that exemplify sensorily extracted features. Moreover, he contends, the best way of understanding sensory individuals takes them to be places in space surrounding the perceiver. In this paper, I'll agree with Clark's case for sensory individuals (.
  28. 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 (...)
  29. The Many-Relations Problem for Adverbialism.Alexander Dinges - 2015 - Analysis 75 (2):231-237.
    Adverbialists propose to analyse sentences of the form ‘Jane has a blue afterimage’ as ‘Jane afterimages blue-ly’. One commonly raised objection to adverbialism is the many-property problem, the problem of accounting for sentences that seem to ascribe more than one property to an afterimage . Plausible responses to this objection may be on offer. In this note, however, I will argue that the many-property problem resurfaces at the level of relations and that, at this level, no solution for the problem (...)
  30. Where Do Perceived Objects Exist?Durant Drake - 1915 - Mind 24 (93):29-36.
  31. Observational Terms.Fred Dretske - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (January):25-42.
  32. Could Sensation Be a Bodily Act?Steven M. Duncan - manuscript
    Hylomorphists claim that sensation is a bodily act. In this essay, I attempt to make sense of this notion but conclude that sensation is not a bodily act, but a mental one occurring in an intentional field of awareness.
  33. Indexing the World? Visual Tracking, Modularity, and the Perception–Cognition Interface.Santiago Echeverri - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):215-245.
    Research in vision science, developmental psychology, and the foundations of cognitive science has led some theorists to posit referential mechanisms similar to indices. This hypothesis has been framed within a Fodorian conception of the early vision module. The article shows that this conception is mistaken, for it cannot handle the ‘interface problem’—roughly, how indexing mechanisms relate to higher cognition and conceptual thought. As a result, I reject the inaccessibility of early vision to higher cognition and make some constructive remarks on (...)
  34. Perceiving Bodies Immediately: Thomas Reid's Insight.Marina Folescu - 2015 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 32 (1):19-36.
    In An Inquiry into the Human Mind and in Essays on Intellectual Powers, Thomas Reid discusses what kinds of things perceivers are related to in perception. Are these things qualities of bodies, the bodies themselves, or both? This question places him in a long tradition of philosophers concerned with understanding how human perception works in connecting us with the external world. It is still an open question in the philosophy of perception whether the human perceptual system is providing us with (...)
  35. The Nature of Perception.John A. Foster - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    John Foster addresses the question: what is it to perceive a physical object? He rejects the view that we perceive such objects directly, and argues for a new version of the traditional empiricist account, which locates the immediate objects of perception in the mind. But this account seems to imply that we do not perceive physical objects at all. Foster offers a surprising solution, which involves embracing an idealist view of the physical world.
  36. Percept and Object in Common Sense and in Philosophy.Fullerton George Stuart - 1913 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10 (3):57-64.
  37. Percept and Object in Common Sense and in Philosophy. II.Fullerton George Stuart - 1913 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10 (6):149-158.
  38. A Theory of Direct Visual Perception.James J. Gibson - 2002 - In A. Noe & E. Thompson (eds.), Vision and Mind: Selected Readings in the Philosophy of Perception. MIT Press. pp. 77--89.
  39. Perceptual Objects.Alvin Goldman - 1977 - Synthese 35 (3):257 - 284.
  40. The Intrinsic Quality of Experience.Gilbert Harman - 1990 - Philosophical Perspectives 4:31-52.
  41. Strawson on Outer Objects.Ross Harrison - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (July):213-221.
  42. The Reality of Qualia.Gary Hatfield - 2007 - Erkenntnis 66 (1-2):133--168.
    This paper argues for the reality of qualia as aspects of phenomenal experience. The argument focuses on color vision and develops a dispositionalist, subjectivist account of what it is for an object to be colored. I consider objections to dispositionalism on epistemological, metaphysical, and 'ordinary' grounds. I distinguish my representative realism from sense-data theories and from recent 'representational' or 'intentional' theories, and I argue that there is no good reason to adopt a physicalist stance that denies the reality of qualia (...)
  43. Review of Zenon W. Pylyshyn, Things and Places: How the Mind Connects with the World[REVIEW]Christopher S. Hill - 2008 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (7).
  44. Bill Brewer, Perception and Its Objects. [REVIEW]Kenneth Hobson - 2013 - Philosophy in Review 33 (6):437-439.
    In this focused and carefully argued book, Bill Brewer develops and defends the Object View (OV), a version of direct realism. Brewer appropriates for his foundational concept what he considers to be a key insight of the early modern tradition: perceptual experience is an irreducibly relational act of direct acquaintance, the direct object of which constitutes the fundamental nature of experience. While many of the early moderns held—partly as a consequence of the arguments from hallucination and illusion—that the direct objects (...)
  45. What We Perceive.Max O. Hocutt - 1968 - American Philosophical Quarterly 5 (January):43-53.
  46. Perception: A Representative Theory.Frank Jackson - 1977 - Cambridge University Press.
    What is the nature of, and what is the relationship between, external objects and our visual perceptual experience of them? In this book, Frank Jackson defends the answers provided by the traditional Representative theory of perception. He argues, among other things that we are never immediately aware of external objects, that they are the causes of our perceptual experiences and that they have only the primary qualities. In the course of the argument, sense data and the distinction between mediate and (...)
  47. Locke and the Visual Array.Michael Jacovides - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):69-91.
    A.D. Smith opens his excellent paper, “Space and Sight,” by remarking, One of the most notable features of both philosophy and psychology throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is the almost universal denial that we are immediately aware through sight of objects arrayed in three-dimensional space. This was not merely a denial of Direct Realism, but a denial that truly visual objects are even phenomenally presented in depth (481). Times have changed. As Smith writes, “It is hard to think of (...)
  48. The Obscure Object of Hallucination.Mark Johnston - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 120 (1-3):113-83.
    Like dreaming, hallucination has been a formative trope for modern philosophy. The vivid, often tragic, breakdown in the mind’s apparent capacity to disclose reality has long served to support a paradoxical philosophical picture of sensory experience. This picture, which of late has shaped the paradigmatic empirical understanding the senses, displays sensory acts as already complete without the external world; complete in that the direct objects even of veridical sensory acts do not transcend what we could anyway hallucinate. Hallucination is thus (...)
  49. Sympathy in Perception.Mark Eli Kalderon - 2017 - Cambridge University Press.
    This is a book about the metaphysics of perception and discusses touch, audition, and vision. Though primarily concerned with the nature of perception, it draws heavily from the history of philosophy of perception, and connects the concerns of analytical and continental philosophers.
  50. What Do We See (When We Do)?Sean D. Kelly - 1999 - In Thomas Baldwin (ed.), Philosophical Topics. Routledge. pp. 107-128.
    1. The philosophical problem of what we see My topic revolves around what is apparently a very basic question. Stripped of all additions and in its leanest, most economical form, this is the question: "What do we see?" But in this most basic form the question admits of at least three different interpretations. In the first place, one might understand it to be an epistemological question, perhaps one with skeptical overtones. "What do we see?", on this reading, is short for (...)
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